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Michael Taylor 19th Nov 2010 - 17:56

Blades lack of confidence could see Eagles soaring

Turn back the clock four years and Bramall Lane was a fortress that Premier League big boys feared - this year not even Scunthorpe were nervous.

Perennial Championship promotion contenders Sheffield United are experiencing life at the wrong end of the table in 2010 amidst a torrent of managerial change and a series of poor results.

Kevin Blackwell was swiftly removed from the hot-seat following a 3-0 loss at home to QPR on the second day of the season, however the flood gates have remained open since Gary Speed's arrival.

The list of teams to win in S2 this season includes Coventry, Watford and Ipswich, not forgetting the most eye-catching battering came at the hands of Scunthorpe - the Irons winning 4-0.

The next team hoping to walk away from Sheffield with three points is Crystal Palace, a side that has stunk as badly away from Selhurst Park as the Blades have at the Lane.

George Burley's men may have enjoyed two fine wins in the build up to this Sky Sports clash, unfortunately neither came on the road meaning they remained rooted on one away win all season.

So to say confidence between the sides will be low is a huge understatement, in fact the only hope we might have for an entertaining game is if many valuable lessons have been learned over the past week.

Gary Speed hasn't had a lot of influence in the transfer market but he finally recruited the iconic figure he wanted to push on with the new style of football in Andy Reid.

The Blades manager has tried to develop a new passing style of football in his short time in charge, the big hindrance being a lack of players suiting that system.

In Nick Montgomery, Chris Morgan, Jonny Ertl and Richard Cresswell you have hard workers, you don't have creativity though so with the short term loan deal for Reid in place you may just see the system starting to advance.

Reid will sit next to Leon Britton in the middle of the park and it'll be those two, plus an in-form Mark Yeates, who'll be given the task of finding the holes in a Palace defence that has conceded 19 goals on the road.

In a similar fashion the Eagles will be looking towards their driving force Darren Ambrose to improve their fortunes after he celebrated a return from injury with a game winning double against Coventry.

Ambrose's contribution can't be highlighted enough, with last year's and this year's goalscoring feats standing up next to the best strikers in the league - all of this from an advanced midfield position.

If he can form a partnership with James Vaughan then all of a sudden Palace are an attacking force to be reckoned with and should be able to add to their meagre six away goals. Sheff United's porous defence should also benefit this sentiment.

This is what it could come down to now, how each defence performs on the day.

Nyron Nosworthy, Kyle Bartley and Steve Simonson have been the cause of so many problems for Gary Speed but a clean sheet away at Millwall was encouraging, while Julian Speroni's defence gave him great protection against Coventry.

Despite this you'd have to be mad to back either side to keep a clean sheet (Sheff Utd 6/5, Palace 5/2), making the 17/20 about both teams scoring in the game look extremely generous.

For me though this has draw written all over it given the lack of confidence each side is sure to display - the draw is priced at 11/5 with 2-2 at 16/1 being my preferred bet from any in the correct score market.

Finally the best looking bet of all has to be Darren Ambrose to score anytime at 10/3 taking his total for the season up to five.

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