Match Preview | Cardiff City vs. Sheffield United
Cardiff City welcome Sheffield United to Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday afternoon (12/11), 3pm KO.
This is City's final league match for nearly a month, with the FIFA World Cup beginning on November 20th.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | IN THE DUGOUT
Sheffield United’s manager is Paul Heckingbottom, who was appointed on a permanent basis in November, following the departure of Slaviša Jokanović.
During his playing career, Heckingbottom amassed 419 league appearances, representing the likes of Darlington, Norwich City, Bradford City, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley.
His first role in management was as a caretaker manager of Barnsley, guiding them to a 3-2 win over Oxford United in the EFL Trophy final in 2016, before earning promotion to the Championship by defeating Millwall in the League One play-off final, which earned him a permanent role.
Heckingbottom has also held managerial roles at Leeds United and Hibernian, prior to his move to Bramall Lane in July 2020, firstly as U23s head coach.
After first-team manager Chris Wilder departed in March 2021, Heckingbottom took interim charge until the end of the season, winning three of their final six Premier League matches, before being named as permanent manager this year.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | LAST THREE
Since Heckingbottom took over from Jokanović, he has led the Blades to third in the Championship table, three points behind leaders Burnley.
Saturday’s opponents were on a positive run of five games unbeaten prior to their midweek loss to Rotherham United.
Heckingbottom’s men began November with a commendable 1-0 win at Bristol City, before following up with a remarkable 5-2 victory over Burnley.
Despite falling behind twice, a brilliant second-half performance saw the Blades come out on top, with striker Oliver McBurnie netting twice.
However, the Blades succumbed to a shock 1-0 loss to Rotherham United in midweek, with Ben Wiles scoring the only goal at Bramall Lane.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | KEY PLAYER
One of the Blades’ main threats this season has been Iliman Ndiaye, who has impressed since making his debut for the club in March 2021, having signed from National League outfit, Boreham Wood, as a youth player.
So far this campaign, the playmaker has netted nine goals and contributed with two assists, scoring a goal every 167 minutes, with a shot accuracy of 50%.
Ndiaye most recently scored in the Blades’ impressive 5-2 win over league-leaders Burnley and played the full 90 minutes in the loss to Rotherham United in midweek.
CLUB CONNECTION | JEFF ECKHARDT
There have been a number of players to represent both the Bluebirds and the Blades, including former centre-back Jeff Eckhardt.
The defender made 74 league appearances for his hometown club, Sheffield United, between 1984 and 1987, where he was highly regarded at Bramall Lane.
Also representing Fulham and Stockport County, Eckhardt joined the Bluebirds in 1996, scoring on his debut in a 1-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Much like his time with the Blades, Eckhardt was a popular figure whilst in the Welsh capital, making 138 league appearances and scoring 14 goals.