Blackpool v Leeds United: YEP jury predictions

Tom Ince.

Tom Ince.

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The YEP jury make their predictions ahead of Leeds United’s clash against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road.

JONATHAN FORD

We only have 180 minutes of football left in 2013 – expectations of a result against Blackpool away would have been unthinkable at the start of the year but fast forward to this date and so much has changed.

Brian McDermott is one of the best things to happen to this club in recent years and he is part of the reason we go to the coast looking for three points with a realistic chance of getting them.

We have the majority of the squad we had last season, with a few additions. Players who didn’t have great seasons last season, have been integral this season with the likes of Jason Pearce showing his true worth.

Ross McCormack has scored far more than he did last year, with five months left. Danny Pugh has been fantastic since he came back in.

Alex Mowatt has been a revelation since he came through the academy which McDermott says is going to bear even more fruit in coming years.

One of the biggest reasons for our decent season and recent form is the defensive certainty we seem to have more of.

The signing of Marius Zaliukas has been a masterstroke and hopefully January can bring some more McDermott magic.

Onto Blackpool, who are a good team at home, but on a bit of a dip in form and are definitely beatable. We are in good form overall and will be looking to bounce back from the disappointing draw at the weekend.

A lot will rest on some of the more experienced players putting in more assured performances because we seemed stuck on Saturday when McCormack had an off day so he will need to put a performance in, as will Rudy Austin – who did seem a little off.

Also, players who could have done better need to be at their best such as Tom Lees. It will be interesting to see if there will be any enforced changes.

We need to stop their main player Tom Ince who is a target for a few Premier League teams and will be looking to impress, hopefully Sam Byram will be fit and may get the nod over Lee Peltier to do a job on Ince.

They also have a couple of handy midfielders like Dan Gosling who are capable of better than Championship standard. As ever, despite restrictions on tickets, the away end is sold out and the fans will be in top form no doubt.

I will therefore predict the same as I always do with a Leeds win.

Prediction: Blackpool 1 Leeds United 2.

KEITH INGHAM

Leeds travel to the seaside to face a Blackpool side whose form in the Sky Bet Championship has been a disappointment to their fans.

They still have a few players who have been courted by many Premiership clubs and the loyalty of Tom Ince, son of Tangerines manager Paul, will be tested when the transfer window is opened again in January.

Leeds have a doubt over central defender Marius Žaliūkas, the most impressive signing of the season so far, in my opinion.

Scott Wootton will deputise if the centre-half is unfit.

Luke Murphy is suspended so a midfield place will be filled by either Michael Brown or Michael Tonge.

The latter came on to replace Alex Mowatt for the second half of Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to Barnsley and was praised by Brian McDermott afterwards.

It should be a good game for the tea-time Sky TV viewers and if Leeds come away from Bloomfield Road with a point I’ll be very happy.

Prediction: Blackpool 1 Leeds United 1.

GARY NEWBOULD

Points have been difficult to come by against Blackpool since hostilities were restored after a significant period of not playing them.

This will be a difficult game against a team with plenty of attacking options but a questionable temperament.

Prediction: Blackpool 1 Leeds United 1.

ELLIOT BRANSBY

After a day of opening presents, eating Christmas dinner and spending quality time with the family, it’s probably best to relax on Boxing Day, but that’s not an option for us football fans.

We travel to the seaside to face Blackpool for an early evening kick-off and the game is live on Sky TV if you can’t make it to Bloomfield Road in person.

At least one change will be made as £1m man Luke Murphy is missing through suspension.

This is the first of two very tough away games and I think for us to cement a play-off place heading into 2014 we need to win at least one of them.

Prediction: Blackpool 1 Leeds United 2.

STEPHEN CLARK

Paul Ince’s side had made a great start to the season, but recent weeks have seen the Tangerines drop down the table at an alarming rate. Ravaged by injuries and suspensions. Pool have lost four straight and look to be ripe for the taking.

Prediction: Blackpool 1 Leeds United 2.

MICHAEL HEMSWORTH

Leeds head to Bloomfield Road looking for their first win there since 1967.

Although Danny Pugh and Lee Peltier have been solid performers, it’s time Stephen Warnock and Sam Byram returned in the wing-back positions. The point of the 3-5-2 formation is to unlock real width and for that, we need our most attacking options starting matches.

Michael Brown, Michael Tongue and Paul Green are vying to replace the suspended Luke Murphy. With Alex Mowatt also walking a suspension tightrope, one of them could return to the side for an extended run. This is a real opportunity to consolidate our place in the play-off positions.

Prediction: Blackpool 1 Leeds United 2.

Potential Leeds United target, Norwich City midfielder Jonny Howson. PIC: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

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