Leeds United boss Simon Grayson hopes to find Cardiff City in a vulnerable state tonight as his players bid to avenge their heaviest defeat of the season and strike a blow in the battle for promotion.
Grayson plans to extend what Bluebirds manager Dave Jones called a "miserable couple of months for us" after claiming that City are no longer the intimidating force they were when they ran riot at Elland Road earlier in the season.
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Leeds lost 4-0 to the Welsh outfit in late October, Jones' side finishing the game as joint leaders of the Championship.
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The result was one of five successive wins registered by City in the space of a month but their form has wobbled badly in the past six weeks and a win over Coventry on Boxing Day is their only victory in seven matches. Cardiff lost 3-0 to Bristol City at Ashton Gate on Saturday.
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United's rout at the hands of the Bluebirds was a watershed moment for
the West Yorkshire club, preceding a 12-game unbeaten run which the United manager said was inspired by the disappointment of a woeful home defeat.
Grayson said: "When we played them back then, they were playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of quality. Recently they've had a few bad results and we'll try to take advantage.
"To lose 4-0 at home was very disappointing, but the players dug in and decided they weren't going to accept any more defeats like that. Twelve games later we're still unbeaten.
"It was a kick up the backside for one or two players but we had the opportunity to put things right and we have.
"I'm sure that scoreline will be a motivation for the players, but the biggest motivation is to remain unbeaten.
"Also, we're playing a top side and with some top individuals – Craig Bellamy and all the other big hitters they've got there. I'm obviously aware of what their individual brilliance can do."
United's form has lifted them above Cardiff – the clubs held fourth and fifth place respectively on Saturday night – but Leeds have drawn three successive games over Christmas, fighting out stalemates with Leicester City, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough.
Grayson acknowledged that tonight's fixture was a contest between two teams with a firm interest in the division's promotion places but said the first week of January was a premature stage at which to draw conclusions from the result at the Cardiff City Stadium.
"It's a big game between two clubs in the top reaches," Grayson said, "but we've got too many games left and too many that are going to be equally important.
"In these four games we'd probably have taken two defeats and two victories but, with the group of games we've had, we could easily have come through them with no points.
"Leicester are a top team at home and Portsmouth can beat anyone on their day. So too can Middlesbrough and Cardiff. I'm delighted with what we've got so far if a bit disappointed we don't have a few more points."