1. ITV Report

Sports preview: Swansea City set for Man City clash; Cardiff City face Burnley

Swansea's Pablo Hernandez is congratulated by team mate Leon Britton after scoring during last week's victory over Wigan Photo: Andy Lloyd/PA Wire

Today sees Swansea City begin a testing but attractive series of games against three of the biggest clubs in the game - with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea providing the opposition over the course of the next week.

It all starts this evening in the late kick-off at the Etihad Stadium, with the Premier League title holders still smarting from their midweek Champions League defeat at the hands of Ajax. The three-one setback in Amsterdam means it would take something extraordinary for Roberto Mancini's men to qualify for the next stage of the competition. The big question as far as the Swans are concerned is the effect that reverse will have on the home side.

Swansea did of course beat Manchester City towards the back end of last season, a result which threatened to derail their bid to overhaul Manchester United. You do feel, though, that they face a massive task to build on success against Wigan last time out. It would be a huge boost to return to South Wales with a point.

As for Cardiff, kept off the top of the Championship only by goal difference, they aim to extend the remarkable run which has seen them set that new club record of six home league wins on the trot at the start of a season. Sixty-six years ago, the team they've now surpassed went on to remain unbeaten at Ninain Park during the whole campaign, and to clinch promotion by taking the title in the old Third Division South.

It may not be easy to maintain their sequence of success against a Burnley side who scored four times at Bristol City in midweek. Then again, the Clarets did concede three themselves, which could be be some encouragement for the Bluebirds.

Malky Mackay's team are hampered by injuries to key players, however. Craig Bellamy's ankle and Tommy Smith's hamstring mean they're the latest to be sidelined - both could be out for several weeks - and it will be interesting to see what role is taken by Kerim Frei, the teenage forward signed on a month's loan from Fulham.

Apart from the two big games involving Swansea and Cardiff, of course, there's major Welsh interest in events at the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier League. Newport aim to consolidate their position as the leaders as they entertain Woking, while Wrexham, four points behind them, look to keep up the pressure on the Rodney Parade club as they travel to Braintree.

The sight of County and the Dragons still occupying first and second places in the table is bound to raise hopes of a truly stellar season. Could it end possibly with Newport and Wrexham back in the Football League, and Cardiff joining Swansea in the Premiership? Early days, of course, but you should never leave it to late to dream....

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