23 August 2013 13:37
Cardiff City will host their first-ever Premier League fixture when Manchester City travel to the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday.
After 51 years outside of the top flight, Malky Mackay’s side suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat against West Ham on the opening day of the season, and the challenges do not get any easier as Manuel Pellegrini’s team head to Wales.
Manchester City began their season with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Newcastle on Monday, and they will be keen to build on their good start with another strong performance.
Mackay knows that Sunday’s clash will be a tough test for his side, but he has challenged them to rise to the occasion and compete with the 2012 Premier League champions.
“They’re a top, top side,” he said. “There’s a task ahead of us and you can see how quickly they got in their stride with the new manager (on) Monday.
“I wouldn’t say it’s daunting, but they’ve got one of the best squads in the country. We’ve got to make sure we’re competitive.”
The two sides have not met since an FA Cup clash in 1994 – which Cardiff won 1-0 – and in the league their paths have not crossed for 28 years.
Craig Bellamy is expected to face the club he left in 2011, the striker having departed Manchester after two seasons due to a lack of opportunities.
The Wales international is joined by five new signings in the Cardiff squad.
The club have broken their transfer record three times during the close-season in signing Andreas Cornelius – who could make his debut in the fixture – Steven Caulker and Gary Medel, but their level of spending is dwarfed by the financial power of the visitors.
Cardiff spent over £28million in preparation for their Premier League bow, while Pellegrini’s side splashed out more than that on one player – Fernandinho, who arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk for £30million.
Cardiff have a fully fit squad to choose from after Andrew Taylor completed a ban and Cornelius returned to full training this week following an ankle injury.
Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany (groin) will not travel to the Welsh capital, leaving Pellegrini without his captain and a gap in central defence.
Joleon Lescott partnered the Belgian against Newcastle due to an ankle injury for Matija Nastasic, and although the Serbian has returned to training this week, the Cardiff match is expected to come too soon for him.
That leaves Micah Richards and Javi Garcia in contention to replace Kompany – although the former is nursing a knock – so Dedryck Boyata could be involved.
New striker Stevan Jovetic is likely to be in contention after a minor hamstring problem ruled him out of the opening-day win.