We're all ready for Welsh derby, says Swansea City boss Michael Laudrup
MICHAEL Laudrup has declared Swansea City ready for Cardiff despite frustration over yesterday's goalless draw with West Ham.
Laudrup took a rare swipe at the officials for denying his team what he felt was an obvious penalty in stoppage time — claiming Swansea's fans should have 'I was there' T-shirts printed on the back of the spot-kick they were awarded against Sunderland nine days ago.
But despite his anger over the alleged Joe Cole handball, Laudrup reckons Swansea are primed for the biggest Welsh derby in history.
"We are in good shape," he said. "We have a full week to prepare for Cardiff and we should have almost everybody available.
"Ashley Williams came through 90 minutes and we also have Pablo (Hernandez) back. Jonjo Shelvey has a slight hamstring injury but he should be okay by Wednesday, so we will only be without Ben Davies — and he is better than we thought.
"Derbies are very special games. Whether it's Lazio-Roma, Copenhagen- Brondby, Real Madrid-Barcelona or Juventus-Torino doesn't matter.
"It's always something special because you know it means a lot to a lot of people, especially the fans.
"They want to win all games, but these games are special for them.
"There will be a lot of words in the build-up — every time the players go out this week people will tell them they have to win on Sunday.
"That's okay, because that means the players will understand how important the game is to the fans."
Laudrup will hope for better luck with the officials next week after Phil Dowd waved away Swansea appeals when Cole blocked Nathan Dyer's cross in stoppage time.
The Hammers midfielder had his back turned, but the ball appeared to strike the back of his raised right arm.
Swansea were awarded their first penalty in 56 top-flight games in the win over Sunderland, and Laudrup was adamant it should have been two in two.
"I always say that the referee and linesmen only have one second to make a decision and it is a very hard job," he added. "But the rules are clear when you have an arm up like that. You know if the ball touches you, nine times out of ten it is a penalty.
"The linesman was in the perfect position, and he made lots of other decisions during the game without any problem.
"But we know the relationship between Swansea and penalties is not the best, even if we got one last weekend after 50-something games.
"Not to be funny, but maybe everybody here should buy a T-shirt saying 'I was there when Swansea got a penalty against Sunderland'. We have had penalties against us for things like that.
"Not today. But another day. I think (the officials) said it was not deliberate, which of course it is not. No wants to take the ball with his hand. But that doesn't matter — it is a penalty."
Laudrup admitted Swansea struggled during a first half where West Ham were the better side.
But he claimed Hammers keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen was the game's stand-out performer after a couple of reflex saves.
The best denied substitute Wilfried Bony as Swansea dominated the second period.
"We knew it would be difficult against West Ham and we had some problems in the first half, especially with set-pieces," Laudrup said.
"But then we controlled the second half and their keeper made two or three great saves. You can't do much about that, but a draw is okay.
"We have four points from two games and we have moved up the table."