Stoke V Cardiff at Britannia Stadium : Match Preview

03 December 2013 06:01
Stoke V Cardiff - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Mackay not concerned by form

Boss Malky Mackay is not concerned by Cardiff's current position as they prepare to face Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.

Saturday's 3-0 home defeat to Arsenal dropped the Bluebirds to 17th in the table, keeping them level with Stoke three points above the drop zone.

But Mackay insists Wednesday's game, and Saturday's fixture at Crystal Palace, will not prove critical in the final analysis of their season come May.

"The gap between the bottom right up to 10th is minute and I don't see that changing between now and the end of season," he said.

"I have said before that with two weeks to go last season 10 teams could still have been relegated.

"It's about us picking up points and keeping that belief. It is a long-term view I am taking and the group have got belief they can perform at this level, compete at this level and pick up points.

"The last couple of games we have played top teams in this league, but now we are playing teams who are in and around us.

"We all know that counts for nothing. You saw that with Liverpool going to Hull at the weekend. They are both going to be tough games but we will be competitive and do our best to bring points home."

Mark Hughes must decide whether to stick with Marc Muniesa at centre half after he was part of a back four which conceded four at Everton.

Full-back Geoff Cameron plays at centre-back for the United States and could move into the centre, while Marc Wilson is another option, with Robert Huth out with a knee injury.

Hughes was keen not to blame the German's absence for the scoreline, saying: "It's too easy and too convenient to say that because we didn't have Robert, that wasthe reason we got beat.

"There were other parts of our game we didn't execute well enough. You'll always miss Robert's experience and his presence, and he comes across to the opposition as a huge barrier to overcome.

"I thought Marc did okay. I thought it was important that I tested Marc at Premier League level.

"Obviously Brek Shea got a little bit bit of the game as well, so it was a case of making sure everybody has an understanding of the Premier League. We've got lots of games coming up so we're going to have to use everybody.

"Marc certainly wasn't the reason we got beaten, I thought he was one of our better performers in the back four. We just need to be a little bit better collectively."

Stoke are expected to be without forward Marko Arnautovic, who is still recovering from a hamstring strain, while striker Jonathan Walters is a doubt with a thigh problem.

Remarkably, the Republic of Ireland international has started Stoke's last 102 Premier League games.

Whoever plays, Hughes is confident the side will react in the right way to their Goodison Park mauling.

The Welshman felt the timing of the goals was the biggest factor, with Everton opening the scoring just before half-time and then adding a second four minutes after the break.

"There are key moments and periods in games where you have to make sure you're nice and solid," he said.

"Everton on the day were probably better than us and deserved to win. The scoreline didn't make great reading for us but that was because we were trying to get into the game and they hit us on the break.

"We'll get a response on Wednesday. It's a key game for us, a big opportunity to get more points on the board and we're looking forward to it.

"We've had a good reaction. They were a little bit quiet on Monday but that's understandable because we were disappointed. They've trained well the last couple of days and now the key is that we pick ourselves up and get going again."

Source: PA

World Cup Group G

England 2 0 0 6 6
Belgium 2 0 0 6 6
Tunisa 0 0 2 -4 0
Panama 0 0 2 -8 0
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