Leeds United manager Simon Grayson has vowed to take the game to Brighton and Hove Albion in an effort to exploit any fatigue among Gus Poyet’s players.
Grayson promised a high-octane performance on the south coast and said his side would be ready to take advantage of a Carling Cup “hangover” among a Brighton squad who are turning out for the second time in 48 hours.
Albion played Liverpool in the League Cup on Wednesday evening, a day after Leeds’ defeat to Manchester United at Elland Road, and Poyet followed Grayson’s lead by committing a strong side to Brighton’s clash with a Premier League club.
United and Albion will turn their focus back to the Championship this evening, with Leeds looking to jump into the play-off positions and the hosts bidding to move back to the top of the table, and Grayson predicted an intense encounter despite the midweek exertions.
Grayson said: “It was always going to be this way with us playing Tuesday and Brighton playing Wednesday but we’ll prepare as well as we can and so will Brighton. It’s two good teams going head-to-head and hopefully the tiredness of the cup games won’t take its toll.
“They’ve got a quicker turnaround but they don’t have the travelling so that’s an advantage for them. But it’s a big ask (for Brighton) in terms of who they’ve played.
“No disrespect but if Brighton had been playing a League One or League Two team rather than Liverpool then they wouldn’t have used as much nervous energy.
“They’re professional footballers and they should be able to deal with it but hopefully they do have a hangover. If they do, we’ll be there to exploit it. We’ve got to be high tempo and we’ve got to be at it.”
A third straight league win on their first appearance at Brighton’s new Community Stadium would carry Leeds into sixth place this evening, most likely temporarily with most of the weekend’s Championship fixtures scheduled for tomorrow.
The club were hovering above the relegation zone at the end of the season’s opening month, but Grayson said: “That’s how it’s going to be all season.
“It’s so tight that a couple of wins can take you up to 11th and another win could take us into the top six.
“The season’s long and ultimately it’s where you finish that matters but we want to be in touch with (the play-off places) right the way through, ready to push and get into the top six at the very least.
“This is a difficult away game for us and they’ve carried their moment forward.
“Momentum from promotion can carry you a long way as we found last season when we finished in the top half of the Championship.
“There’s no reason why Brighton can’t do the same, but on our day we can beat anyone in this division.”
United are taking a full allocation of away supporters to Sussex and their fans drew special praise from Poyet, who worked as assistant manager to Dennis Wise at Leeds in 2006 and 2007.
Poyet said: “I think – and I say think, this is my opinion – that I had a great connection with the fans, even being ex-Chelsea.
“It’s a very good club with terrific supporters. Of course they want the team to win, but they’ll support them until the end and it makes a difference.
“That’s when you realise you are working for a club that deserves to be, without any doubt, in the Premiership.”