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Michael Taylor 7th Aug 2010 - 18:12

Blackwell’s Blades can be sharp in Cardiff

Sheffield United fans know as well as anyone how tough it is bouncing back from a play-off final defeat, this year it's Cardiff who have to overcome this problem though.

The Bluebirds became Blackpool's final victim in a bizarre Championship season in May's showpiece at Wembley and while winding orders have seemingly been swept away for now the task of another 46 games in football's second tier still weighs heavily.

The first leg could have been easier as well as they welcome Championship mainstays Sheff Utd to the capital.

The Blades, themselves losing play-off finalists three times previously, are as tough as they come with Kevin Blackwell's ethos being hard work and commitment.

The likes of Chris Morgan, Nyron Nosworthy, Nick Montgomery and Richard Cresswell won't bring flair to the proceedings but they will ensure the home side are forced to fight tooth and nail for every ball all over the pitch.

It'll be up to the likes of new signing Jason Koumas to open the door in midfield while the front pairing of Jay Bothroyd and Michael Chopra has to be up there as one of the most exciting in the division and a constant thorn for opposition defences.

Koumas may be some way off full fitness but if he gets a chance to participate he has the ability to play the type of killer balls that have seen him become a hotly chased target for many years.

However, as United showed at the end of last season, when the squad stays injury free they have as much potential as anyone in what many view as the tightest division in recent years.

The addition of Steve Simonsen as the full time replacement for Paddy Kenny was greeted with smiles from the Bramall Lane faithful while big things are expected from ex-Swansea playmaker Leon Britton .

Journeyman striker Cresswell also seemed to find a new lease of life in the Steel City with his goals giving the Blades feint hopes of a play-off run right until the last few weeks of last season.

The targetman will be raring to go after finding the back of the net four times in the final five games of last year and he looks good value to carry on where he left off 7/1 to score the first of the game.

Aside from having to bounce back from the play-off loss, Cardiff also have to come to terms with a few issues that arose from their transfer embargo.

Lee Naylor had been touted as City's new left back but his signing never came to fruition while Tom Heaton will be called on to take care of goalkeeping duties after he completed his move just last week.

It's this sort of defensive instability that could cost City dearly in the first few weeks of the new season, with Dave Jones's side certainly not lacking talent going forward despite the big loss of Joe Ledley.

With this in mind you have to be looking at the 21/20 about more than 2.5 goals as a potential winner while 5/2 about United leaving Wales with three points screams value.

Finally, if you want a big price to cheer you could do a lot worse than looking at Blades youngster Matthew Lowton in the first goalscorer market at 40/1.

He may not be a guarantee on the team sheet but he figured fairly heavily in pre-season and even managed to fire the winner in last week's 1-0 win over Argentinean powerhouses Estudientes.


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