Michael Laudrup enjoyed a hugely successful maiden season as Swansea manager, fitting seamlessly into – and improving upon – the tactical setup laid out during the Swans’ inaugural season in the Premier League.
The Dane delivered the Capital One Cup in February in what effectively amounted to an end of season party, after their impressive league form had steered them well clear of the relegation picture. They eventually finished in ninth position, a full 10 points clear of the drop.
Summer signing Michu was the primary source of goals in south west Wales last term, and after a return of 18 league goals it will come as a relief to those at the Liberty Stadium that the Spaniard has signed a new contract to keep him at the club until 2016.
Defensive midfielder Jose Canas has already been added to the Swansea roster this summer after helping guide Real Betis to seventh place in the Primera Liga, suggesting that the club is not content to rest on its laurels and is showing an earnest ambition to ascend the table next year.
After numerous botched efforts Cardiff finally gained promotion to the top flight in 2012-13, Malky Mackay implementing a robust line-up that will need noteworthy additions.
It is worth mentioning that none of the promoted sides this term finished higher than 14th. Birmingham were the last promoted side to finish in the top 10 in 2009-10, a feat that becomes harder with every passing season with the money being spent across the division.
With 72 league goals in 46 games last season – just six more than relegated Peterborough – they are by no means prolific, and will obviously find the going far harder against the Premier League’s less forgiving defences.
The Bluebirds’ top scorer last term was Heidar Helguson, registering just nine strikes. The veteran Icelandic striker has since returned to his homeland, increasing what was already a notable void in the goal-threatening options.
At this moment in time Swansea look all set to top the intra-Welsh battle, and can be backed to do so at 1/3, with Cardiff an 11/5 shot to cause an improbable upset.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing