Leeds United v Birmingham City: YEP jury predictions

Marcus Antonsson.
Marcus Antonsson.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s home clash with Birmingham City.

DAVID WATKINS

Birmingham City opened their season with a decent looking nil-nil home draw with fancied Cardiff while Leeds were put to the sword by QPR.

The Blues ought to hit the ground running as there are few changes in their squad from the end of last season, just three summer signings at the time of writing including 20 year-old striker Che Evans from Sheffield United this week.

Birmingham will also have the benefit of an extra day’s preparation as their first-round EFL Cup game was on Tuesday night against Oxford United (Blues lost 1 -0) although only five of the team that played Cardiff featured and three of those came off the bench.

The fact it went to extra time is hardly relevant therefore as the side that faces us will be very different.

That may not be the case for Leeds though as we put out a strong side at Fleetwood and also had to play the extra half-hour on a rain-soaked pitch to see them off in a penalty shoot-out.

Leeds need a result this weekend, if nothing else to convince us that we are indeed a stronger side than we were this time last season.

Five players made their debuts at Loftus Road but the way we played in the first half particularly and the mistakes we made raised questions over them all.

Most Leeds fans had been encouraged by the summer signings but I would guess many are now not quite as sure as they were 10 days ago.

The struggle we had to beat Fleetwood has also hardly given us cause for too much optimism. There will be a big crowd inside Elland Road too and to make sure that the non-regulars come back a stirring performance is the minimum we need.

Even if our newcomers perform as we know they can I’m unsure we are not yet strong enough as a team to routinely win games like this; I still feel we are weak in defence and short of a general in midfield. Pablo Hernandez looked good in those poor conditions on Wednesday night and he will undoubtedly add a new dimension going forward.

But is that sufficient?

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Birmingham City 2.

KEITH INGHAM

Elland Road hosts its first Championship game of the season when Birmingham City visit tomorrow.

Garry Monk will hope that the ‘rustiness’ shown on Sunday has gone, this being the third game in six days. Leeds’ confidence will hopefully be boosted by the penalty shoot-out win over Fleetwood Town in midweek (5-4) after the sides drew 2-2 at the end of a exciting 120- odd minutes.

Birmingham, managed by Gary Rowett are some people’s outside bet for the play-offs and will, no doubt, be hoping to duplicate the win last season at Elland Road. Leeds were very poor that day.

City’s first two games, both at home have yielded a 0-0 draw with Cardiff City and a defeat to Oxford United in the EFL Cup.

Monk seems to like two formations, 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2. I hope the latter is employed at home with Kemar Roofe and Pablo Hernandez on the wings with Alex Mowatt and Kalvin Phillips (unless another midfielder finally is signed!) in the middle, as the Phillips/Ronaldo Vieira combo didn’t really work in midweek.

Up front I’d like to see Marcus Antonsson, who grabbed the equaliser and won the penalty against Fleetwood, supporting Chris Wood.

I really fancy Leeds to win this, but it won’t be without a scare or two along the way.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Birmingham City 1.

STEPHEN CLARK

It’s been a tough first week for Leeds United supporters. All our pre-season optimism was dashed inside five minutes at QPR and after a week of navel gazing, we were treated to a roller coaster ride at the seaside in the EFL Cup tie at Fleetwood.

The overriding feeling after these first couple of games is that this team is very much a work in progress. Garry Monk still doesn’t appear to know his best side or formation and is having to work these things out on the hoof. It’s almost as if the pre-season fixture list was a little bit light.

What we do know is that the back four and keeper need to do a lot of work to prevent every set-piece becoming something that has to be watched with our hands over our eyes. In the middle of the park we have some genuine class in Hernandez and Mowatt and need someone to sit and do their dirty work. Up top we have plenty of pace in Kemar Roofe and a potentially lethal striker in Antonsson. If we can fit the pieces in around those players, then we might just have a sniff of being up at the business end of the table.

Having said that, it needs time for this side to gel and we have learned that this is a commodity that is lacking at Elland Road under Massimo Cellino. Birmingham City offer a tough test for Monk’s first home game. A big crowd will certainly make it a cracking occasion but I’m not sure it’s one we are completely ready for.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Birmingham City 1.

GARY NEWBOULD

After scraping past Fleetwood on penalties United start their LS11 Championship campaign against Birmingham City. Gary Rowett’s Blues exited the League cup in embarrassing fashion at home to Oxford in midweek, however they opened their league campaign with a scoreless draw against Cardiff City and have been very much the draw specialists over their last few fixtures straddling the last two seasons. I’m expecting another tight encounter, however hopefully a much improved performance on the back of the midweek victory.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Birmingham City 1.

MATTHEW EVANS

For the first 45 minutes at Fleetwood, United were no better than they had been at Loftus Road on Sunday. Half-time, standing in the driving rain in only shirt sleeves, in August, and it already started to feel like a grim season was about to unfold.

Thankfully there was just enough in the following 75 minutes plus penalties to offer hope for the future. Pablo Hernandez looked an instant improvement on anything we’ve had in that position for years and Marcus Antonsson took his goal incredibly well.

In an ideal world, Garry Monk will find room for both of them and Alex Mowatt tomorrow for what I expect to be an improved performance that just falls short.

Prediction: Leeds United 1 Birmingham City 2.

MIKE GILL

Following the massive disappointment against QPR and a spirited, if defensively sloppy win against Fleetwood, this one is a tough call

However the introduction of Hernandez and the experience of winning our first competitive game should top up the team’s confidence level.

After his performance at Fleetwood, Antonsson must start against Birmingham. He’s fast, sharp and slippery as an eel. A real handful for any defender. Roofe also deserves a start so maybe Chris Wood should warm the bench. We shall see..

Prediction: Leeds United 3 Birmingham City 2.

Kemar Roofe celebrates his equaliser against Newport with team-mates. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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