By Gareth James
Anyone who saw Yakou Meite at his rampaging best for Reading would know why Cardiff City took a punt on the striker.
When fully fit and firing, Meite was one of the most dangerous strikers in the Championship as his 42 league goals in 156 appearances (only 102 starts) would testify.
The trouble was the power that made the Ivorian a kind of mini Wilfried Bony seemed to have left him after two injury-troubled years.
Meite, though, has slowly looked like his old self at times in recent matches for Cardiff and his first goal for the Bluebirds in their 4-0 midweek win at Huddersfield suggests there is much more to come.
#OnThisDay in 2️⃣0️⃣2️⃣0️⃣:
Yakou Meite, Michael Olise, Josh Laurent and Lucas João combined to complete a 4-2 victory away at Blackburn in October 2020, taking #ReadingFC seven points clear at the top of the Championship, and extending the unbeaten run to eight games at the start… pic.twitter.com/zsn1adpvA6
— RFC Latest (@RFCLatest) October 27, 2023
On Saturday, he will be trying to become a derby hero in the Severnside clash at home to Bristol City – a fixture Cardiff are favourites to win with DragonBet at 23/23, with the Robins priced at 23/10.
“Yakou is a really good and important player for us,” says Cardiff boss Erol Bulut.
“He was a little bit unlucky at the start of the season with small injuries, coming back and getting injured again.
“He was always putting himself under pressure because he didn’t score, but he had a few chances. But I told him continue to work, they will come, you will score and then everything will start.
“Against Huddersfield he scored and had two or three good actions. It was a good game after his injury, he played 60 minutes so we can only build on it.”
𝐅𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐦𝐢𝐝𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐁𝐥𝐮𝐞𝐛𝐢𝐫𝐝𝐬 𝐒𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐕𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲.
Callum Robinson, Dimitrios Goutas, Yakou Meite and Perry Ng score in Bluebird's 4-0 win.
Brought to you by @mechtech_pro.
— Cardiff City Community Partnership (@CardiffCityCP) October 25, 2023
Cardiff’s midweek victory kept them among the Championship play-off contenders and they can make it six wins in 10 matches if they overcome Bristol.
The Bluebirds have already won one derby match this season, against the Swans, and Bulut says: “To win two derbies and to bring something back to the fans, would be fantastic.
“I think there will be 25,000, maybe more, in the stadium, so we want to give our fans something back for how they support us. This will be the thank you for them, with three points, I hope.”
On Saturday, it’s a case of reacting to contrasting midweek fortunes for Wales’ two teams in the Championship.
While Cardiff enjoyed that thumping win away at Huddersfield, Swansea City went down to a 1-0 defeat at home to Watford.
That was a second successive defeat for the Swans, an abrupt end to their four-game winning streak, and now they must bid to stop it becoming an unwanted hat-trick of losses away at Blackburn Rovers.
Best win of Erol Bulut’s tenure at @CardiffCityFC. Dominant, fluent & simply overwhelmed #Terriers. Callum Robinson thrived on 1st Champ start; Yakou Meite formidable, Perry Ng’s f/kick an absolute peach. With more composure could have been more. Manolis Siopis outstanding. Ft4-0 https://t.co/Q1UzedzMqN
— Rob Phillips (@robphillipshere) October 24, 2023
They could be boosted, though, by the return of Wales defender Ben Cabango, who has now recovered from a hamstring injury.
That will be a big plus for Swans boss Michael Duff who rates the Wales central defender highly.
“I think there is a leader in there. He is a young player, but I think he has got leadership qualities,” said Duff.
“He has been receptive to new ideas. In terms of defenders and the ways I want them to defend, he has been really open and tried to implement it.
“Ben has been great and he is the type of player you want to work with. He has got the physical attributes to be a good defender and he takes a lot of detail on board.
“For Ben it’s just about working hard every day and setting those professional standards. You don’t have to walk around shouting or headbutting a wall to be a leader, you can lead in how you conduct yourself.”
Yakou Meité🇨🇮 a participé ce soir à la large victoire (4-0) de Cardiff face à Huddersfield en inscrivant un but.✅️ pic.twitter.com/XNlKKMC17d
— Le Foot 225 🇨🇮 (@LeFoot225) October 24, 2023
Swansea don’t lead the way in the betting, though. DragonBet make Balckburn favourites for the win at 20/21, with the Swans at a distant 13/5 and the draw at 11/4.
Wrexham are now unbeaten in six matches in League Two and have an intriguing fixture away at Notts County – the club that came up alongside Wrexham from the National League last season.
County have adapted to League Two even better than Wrexham and are currently second in the table, three points and one place ahead of Wrexham.
Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson says: “There’s a mutual respect between both clubs and both teams because we went toe-to-toe last season.
“I think we put the National League on the map. But we go to Meadow Lane full of confidence. We’re going to go to have a real go at them.”
Newport County need to have a similar outlook if they are to end a slump that has seen them suffer six defeats in their last 10 games.
County travel to seventh-placed Gillingham on Saturday and manager Graham Coughlan sounds like a man who understands what may happen if their decline continues for too long.
“The players need to step up to the plate and need to take responsibility because I’m not daft, I know the rules of football. I know the rules of management,” said Coughlan.