Malky Mackay

Know Your Enemy: Cardiff City

by Ashley Houghton

We profile one of the Barclays Premier League's new boys.

The Bluebirds are preparing for their first season in the Barclays Premier League after they ran away with the Championship title last season.

Malky Mackay’s side put an end to the Welsh outfit’s unlucky run which had seen them lose out in three consecutive play-offs by topping the table with a mammoth 87 points.

Cardiff were in breathtaking form at their 26,828 capacity stadium, losing only twice as they sealed promotion with three games to spare.

The Cardiff City Stadium has been the Bluebirds’ home since 2009 after they moved from their 99-year home, Ninian Park, at the end of the 2008-09 campaign.

For Sunderland fans, the 640-mile round trip to South Wales will be one of the longest the Sunderland fans have to endure during the 2013-14 season, though, on their last two visits to Ninian Park, the Black Cats came away with three points on both occasions.

Sunderland haven’t won any of the last five top-flight meetings between the two sides, though, that record stretches back to the 1950s.

Fraizer Campbell is likely to be ever-present for the Welsh outfit after his move in January from the Black Cats. The former Manchester United man scored seven goals in 12 league games to become an instant hit with the Cardiff faithful.

Two players who will know each other well are Rudy Gestede and Stephane Sessegnon; the two play their international football for Benin with the latter captaining his country in their recent World Cup qualification matches in Africa.

Welsh striker Craig Bellamy, now with his home-town club, has bagged six goals against the Black Cats during his career.

Bellamy has yet to score at the Stadium of Light, though he boasts a prolific record against the Wearsiders with goals against them in spells with Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United and Manchester City.

Bluebirds defender Andrew Taylor will also be looking forward to a return to the north east; the left-back hails from Hartlepool and progressed through the youth ranks at Middlesbrough before moving to Wales in 2011.

Cardiff manager Malky Mackay played with Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio in the year the Italian spent north of the border with Celtic.

In fact, the first time the two played in the same team it was Mackay who grabbed an 89th-minute winner in a 2-1 win at Dundee United.