Leeds United: Déjà vu won’t be lost on Whites fans

Leeds United once again face a trip to Nottingham Forest over the Christmas period.

Leeds United once again face a trip to Nottingham Forest over the Christmas period.

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Leeds United followers scanning the 2015-16 fixture list will have perhaps been uttering the following phrase when they studied the vital statistics: ‘Some things don’t change.’

Several lengthy midweek trips to the south and an East-Midlands themed Christmas will not have represented the biggest of surprises to many, with fans no doubt now bracing themselves for a number of dates and times of games to be changed at the behest of police or the broadcasting companies.

Within the 2015-16 itinerary, there are a few gems, with the fact that Leeds’ longest journey south after March 8 will be just down the road to Rotherham also being something that will be welcomed.

First, the stuff that Leeds fans will not have been surprised about, with this year’s non-weekend road trips featuring Bristol City (August 18), Fulham (October 20), Wolves (December 15), Ipswich Town (January 12) and perhaps most ghastly of all, Cardiff City (March 8).

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United’s Boxing Day trip to the City Ground will represent the fourth successive season that they have visited Nottingham Forest at Christmas time, with a Yuletide appointment with Derby County following on from December games against the Rams in 2014-15 and 2011-12.

Looking at the season as a whole, the opening month, on paper at least, looks fairly tough with a home opener with Sean Dyche’s Burnley – who may have been relegated last term, but who still punched above their weight and were never humiliated – not the easiest assignment first up.

That said, they are likely to face a side shorn of several of their leading lights from the past few years on August 8, with striker Danny Ings joining Liverpool and Kieran Trippier linked with Spurs. After that, United will face three away dates in the space of a week, starting mercifully with a short trip to a happy hunting ground in Doncaster Rovers in the Capital One Cup before a more considerable journey on Britain’s motorway network to Reading on August 15, where Leeds clinched their first win since 1987 last season. Three days later, Leeds call in at Bristol City at an Ashton Gate stadium which is undergoing redevelopment, meaning they will have travelled over 900 miles in a week.

August ends with a first derby of the season against Sheffield Wednesday on August 22, with games between the pair at Elland Road being tight ones in recent years before calling in at Derby County, a venue which has proved a house of pain for Leeds over the years – they have lost on their last seven visits there.

In comparison to August, September and October looks less hazardous, with a run of four home matches out of six until from September 12 to October 17 offering the precious chance to gain some momentum.

It is likely to be something noted by Rosler, whose haul of just two wins in eight home games in charge at Wigan last term was a pretty damning statistic which probably contributed to his axing by the Latics last November.

United negotiate back-to-back home fixtures following the end of the first international break against Brentford and Ipswich and also face consecutive Elland Road matches against Birmingham and Brighton in October.

Visits to newly-promoted MK Dons and Middlesbrough are sandwiched in between, with the latter being a place where United have lost just once in 13 visits, with the Riverside as close to a lucky ground as it gets for Leeds – well that and the Keepmoat at any rate.

After facing relegated Burnley on the opening day, Leeds do not tackle another side who dropped down from the top-flight last term until the end of November when they visit QPR on November 28.

That trip to Loftus Road provides the break between three derby fixtures and with five rival clubs from Yorkshire being in the Championship in 2015-16, form against the local rivals is likely to be a key factor next season – and potentially the difference between success and failure.

Leeds visit Huddersfield, who they did the double over for the first time since 1939 last term, on November 7 and host Rotherham United in their next appointment after the third international break 14 days later. United then start December with a home clash with Hull, a month which has a pretty testing look about it with trips to Wolves and Forest and home matches with Preston and Derby factored in.

December is also a month of returns with Simon Grayson and Robert Snodgrass both heading back to Leeds for the first time.

It will also not be lost on more perceptive Leeds fans that a win during the two games over the Christmas holiday season in December has not been recorded since Stockport were beaten on December 2009, with the Yuletide season largely a miserable one in recent years.

Long trips beckon early in the New Year to Ipswich and Brentford, with the latter seeing Rosler returning to Griffin Park to face the first club he managed in England with the promoted duo of MK Dons and Bristol City being the visitors to Leeds during that month.

In February and early March, Leeds also have a run of four out of six at home against Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough, Fulham and Bolton which offers further scope for momentum to be generated on home soil.

The run home sees United face derbies with Huddersfield, Rotherham and Hull and also face the relegated sides of Burnley and QPR along with the Tigers. The business end of the campaign also sees Wolverhampton Wanderers, who ended last season well and are tipped to be dark horses next term, visit Elland Road.

A high-octane finish for sure.

Andrea Radrizzani with former owner Massimo Cellino. PIC: Simon Hulme

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