We preview Cardiff City's second month of the 2014-15 Sky Bet Championship season
Following on from our opening preview of the 2014-15 Sky Bet Championship season and City's August schedule, Oliver Roderick takes a look at what September has to offer for the Bluebirds.
Norwich City (H) - Saturday, 13th September - Kick-off 3pm
2013-14 Premier League: 18th
Top scorer: Gary Hooper (8)
Manager: Neil Adams
Stadium: Carrow Road (Capacity: 27,244)
The Bluebirds’ first match of September will be the second game in a row against a fellow relegated side, as Neil Adams will bring his Norwich City side to Cardiff City Stadium. The Canaries slipped into the bottom three with just two games left to play last term and, like Fulham and Cardiff, find themselves among the favourites for promotion this time around.
With heaps of Premier League and international experience in their ranks – Leroy Fer even found the net for Holland in Brazil at the World Cup – Norwich will likely be a threat this time around too. However, their two away wins last term was the lowest in the division, and that will be a point Adams will need to address.
Last meeting: Cardiff City 2-1 Norwich City (Premier League - February 1st 2014)
Craig Bellamy’s first goal of the season was followed by a debut strike from Kenwyne Jones as the Bluebirds overturned Robert Snodgrass’s early opener at Cardiff City Stadium – Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s first win as Cardiff City manager.
Middlesbrough (H) - Tuesday, 16th September - Kick-off 7.45pm
2013-14 Sky Bet Championship: 12th
Top scorer: Albert Adomah (12)
Manager: Aitor Karanka
Stadium: Riverside Stadium (Capacity: 34,742)
A second home game in four days has Middlesbrough visiting Cardiff City Stadium, in a game that could potentially see the return to Wales of former Bluebirds goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos, with the Greek having recently signed a new one-year contract with the Riverside Stadium club.
Five wins from six around the turn of the year was the season highlight for Boro last term, but Aitor Karanka’s side ended on a high note by taking six wins from their final eight.
Last meeting: Middlesbrough 2-1 Cardiff City (Championship – March 2nd 2013)
The Bluebirds were beaten on their travels for the first time in ten outings as a quick brace of goals from Keiron Dyer and Sammy Ameobi gave the hosts an early lead. Aron Gunnarsson pulled one back, but the table-toppers were unable to draw level.
Derby County (A) - Saturday, 20th September - Kick-off 3pm
2013-14 Sky Bet Championship: 3rd
Top scorer: Chris Martin (25)
Manager: Steve McClaren
Stadium: iPro Stadium (Capacity: 33,597)
One of the strongest outfits in the Championship last season, Steve McClaren enjoyed an impressive first campaign as boss of the Rams after succeeding Nigel Clough in September.
After losing out to Queens Park Rangers in last season’s Play-off Final, McClaren’s main task will be to pick his players up in order for them to go again. Zak Whitbread and former Bluebird Lee Naylor joined the club last week, while last season’s top scorer Chris Martin has been retained so far, giving a big boost to the one-time England manager’s hopes.
Last meeting: Cardiff City 1-1 Derby County (Championship - March 5th 2013)
Craig Noone’s 82nd-minute header cancelled out Conor Sammon’s late opener to keep Cardiff City five points clear at the top of the Championship.
Sheffield Wednesday (H) - Saturday, 27th September - Kick-off 3pm
2013-14 Sky Bet Championship: 16th
Top scorer: Chris Maguire (9)
Manager: Stuart Gray
Stadium: Hillsborough (Capacity: 39,732)
The Owls will want to avoid a repeat of their nightmare start last season, when it took Wednesday thirteen games of the Sky Bet Championship season to register their first win. Their finish was disappointing two, as Stuart Gray’s side lost all of their final three games.
The club’s new owner, Hafiz Mammadov, also owns French club Lens, and that is a link that Stuart Gray could take advantage of as he looks to improve on last year’s finish of sixteenth.
Last meeting: Sheffield Wednesday 0-2 Cardiff City (Championship - March 16th 2013)
Completely against the run of play, Cardiff City produced a smash-and-grab raid on Hillborough as Don Cowie and Matthew Connolly converted the only two opportunities to fall the Bluebirds’ way all match.
Brighton and Hove Albion (A) - Tuesday, 30th September - Kick-off 7.45pm
2013-14 Sky Bet Championship: 6th
Top scorer: Leonardo Ulloa (14)
Manager: Sami Hyypiä
Stadium: American Express Community Stadium (Capacity: 30,750)
Another of last season’s unsuccessful Play-off contenders, Albion will go again under a new boss this season following Óscar García’s resignation. Former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypiä this week added Sammy Lee and ex-Southampton goalkeeper Antti Niemi to his coaching staff, and as yet one new player has entered the AMEX this summer: Nzuzi Toko has joined from Grasshopper Zurich on a free transfer.
Known for their passing style instilled during Gustavo Poyet’s tenure as manager, Brighton will be looking to improve on two consecutive play-off finishes.
Last meeting: Cardiff City 0-2 Brighton and Hove Albion (Championship – February 19th 2014)
The Seagulls handed the Bluebirds their second home defeat of their Championship-winning season.
Despite controlling the best part of the game it was the visitors who took the lead two minutes before the break through ex-Swansea City player Andrea Orlandi, before Leonardo Ulloa struck at the end of an identical second half to settle it.