Blackburn v Leeds United: YEP jury predictions

Paul Lambert.
Paul Lambert.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s trip to Blackburn Rovers.

KEITH INGHAM

Sometimes life and football throw up something or a result you simply cannot explain. Tuesday was one of those occasions. I’ve already written obituaries for the current campaign and recent poor showings culminating in the ‘Shocker on the South Coast’.

So my chance to do the main article was my chance to vent my spleen on where I think Cellino, Evans and some players are not doing the club any favours with their ownership, leadership and performances. Away to Cardiff City on a Tuesday filled me with dread. I actually went to the ‘beam back’ at Elland Road so I could meet Leeds legend Norman Hunter and what a marvellous man he is, still passionate and knowledgeable about the club he played for years back when Leeds were a force in football.

What I saw in 90 minutes changed completely what I was to write, battling for every ball, passion to win and joy in victory thanks to two marvellous breakaway goals by Leeds’ own Ant and Douk. Credit where it is due as it was a fine away performance aided by a ‘Middlesbrough away’ display by the sometimes criticised Marco Silvestri. Some unbelievable saves.

That made it back-to-back wins and a lunchtime kick-off at Blackburn Rovers will test this two-game revival. Their latest win was 2-0 over recently impressive Birmingham City – they beat Boro 2-1 in their previous home game – and they were very unlucky to lose to their local rivals and top-of-the-table Burnley. With Graham and Watt up front Leeds will need a solid defensive performance; they have enough in their squad to trouble resurgent Leeds.

Paul Lambert, the ex-Aston Villa manager, is slowly but surely turning the club’s fortunes around. Ex-Leeds man Mathew Kilgallon will hope to complete the double over his old club. The first game at Elland Road ended 2-0 with Blackburn scoring two early goals to end the game as a contest. A poor display from Leeds, so hopefully revenge will be on the players’ minds.

Steve Evans, apart from Ross Turnbull, will have a full squad to pick from. Coyle and Cooper should be in contention along with fit-again Chris Wood. The team did so well at Cardiff, Evans may keep the same XI and start the returning players on the bench. It’s never easy to second-guess the head coach; Tuesday’s line-up surprised many but to his credit it worked like a dream.

A week ago I’d be less hopeful but I think Leeds can record a victory to virtually guarantee Championship football next season; it will be close mind you.

Prediction: Blackburn 1 Leeds United 2.

GARY NEWBOULD

Fresh from ending a 32-year hoodoo in Wales, United cross the Pennines to take on Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park – another unhappy hunting ground.

After the rock-bottom of Brighton, it’s been back-to-back victories for the Whites, coming at just the right time after third-bottom Rotherham have also started to find some form under former United manager Neil Warnock– with three consecutive victories themselves.

Rovers lie one point and one position worse than United, but under the new stewardship of Paul Lambert they have started to be more consistent, especially at home.

The Whites will draw some comfort in that perennial tormentor-in-chief, Jordan Rhodes, has departed for Middlesbrough, but former Leicester man Ben Marshall, currently playing at full-back, has pace to burn and needs to be watched closely.

Coach Steve Evans may have something of a selection headache himself with striker Chris Wood poised to return.

Common sense (a rare commodity at LS11) would dictate an unchanged starting line up, with Wood as a sub’.

Attitude and organisation have been vital commodities in our last two games and it’s essential these are in abundance at Ewood Park.

Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 1 Leeds United 1.

DAVID WATKINS

Leeds rode their luck at Cardiff on Tuesday night but as we are constantly reminded, “the harder you work the luckier you get” and we all worked like Trojans down there, fans and players alike!

We withstood a second-half barrage from Cardiff but with Silvestri at his shot-stopping best and a defence that managed to avoid the stupid errors we have fallen to in many games this season, we got through it. We also showed we have players capable of taking a half-chance when offered.

We now need to do it all again at Blackburn and see if we can put a third successive win on the board.

We have not won in our last four trips to Ewood and we shudder when we remember those opening six minutes at Elland Road in October when we conceded twice. Thankfully, Rovers no longer have Jordan Rhodes who did some of the damage that day.

Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 1 Leeds United 1.

MATTHEW EVANS

Back-to-back wins have perked up the United support this week although a glance at the table shows it’s all pretty irrelevant now.

Eventually we will be deemed safe and hopefully at that point Steve Evans will begin to experiment with younger players who could really make an impact on our season next year.

It’s fair to say that nobody’s entirely sure what our best starting eleven is or which version of Leeds United will turn up: the determined victors at Cardiff or the lame shambles at Brighton. Let’s hope at Blackburn it’s the former.

Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 1 Leeds United 1.

STEPHEN CLARK

Leeds travel to Ewood Park on Saturday lunchtime in a much more positive mood than has been the norm of late, after a week which has seen them pick up six points and end a hoodoo which has weighed over them for 32 years.

However it should not be overlooked that in the wins over Bolton and Cardiff, Leeds have certainly ridden their luck. In both games they have been second best for long periods and could quite easily have come out of the two games with nothing.

Having said that Leeds are now hopefully in a position where relegation is no longer a serious threat, and are therefore in a position to plan for next season. Now is the time for the fringe players to see if they can cut the mustard, because if they aren’t good enough in relatively meaningless end of season encounters, then they shouldn’t be part of the squad for the next campaign.

I would much rather see the likes of Mulhern, Stokes and Walters given their opportunity in the first team than give players who at times have shown little stomach for the fight be given the chance to earn a new contract.

Prediction: Blackburn Rovers 2 Leeds United 1.

JAMES HARRISON

I’m interested to see what will happen at Blackburn after back-to-back wins; it was a proper away display at Cardiff, scoring two on the counter. We struggle against Blackburn, but without Jordan Rhodes they’re not as dangerous.

Man of the match: Blackburn 0 Leeds United 1.

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