Leeds United v Brighton: YEP Jury give their predictions

Gaetano Berardi takes on Darnell Furlong.
Gaetano Berardi takes on Darnell Furlong.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s home clash with Brighton and Hove Albion.

STEPHEN CLARK

Charlie Taylor.

Charlie Taylor.

Leeds United’s promotion credentials will be given a stiff test tomorrow evening when they take on Brighton and Hove Albion at Elland Road.

Chris Hughton’s side have been, possibly, the cream of the crop in this season’s Championship, but their promotion dream has started to turn a little sour in recent weeks.

From an almost impregnable position, Brighton’s lead over the third-placed club has been whittled away as the Seagulls’ form has wavered for the first time this season. Defeats to Huddersfield, Newcastle and Nottingham Forest mean that their buffer over the Terriers could be down to just three points come kick-off.

Leeds are possibly too far away from the top two to seriously consider an automatic promotion place, as the perception is that our form has dipped at the wrong time. However, our tally of 12 points over the last six games has been matched only by Fulham among the genuine play-off contenders, and they are seen as being one of the form teams of the division.

Luke Ayling.

Luke Ayling.

There is no doubt that nerves are jangling as we enter the home stretch, but, in reality, Leeds are pretty comfortable. Reading and Sheffield Wednesday are in a run of poor results, and we have collected five more points than both in that same six-match stretch, and they face each other this weekend.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the Whites’ performances in recent weeks have not been stellar, but we have picked up the happy knack of collecting points when the going gets tough.

When we have needed to pick up points against our fellow challengers, especially at home, the team have done the business.

Hopefully the players will be relaxed enough tomorrow night to let things flow. The worst case scenario is that we will be two points clear of seventh place should things not go our way this weekend.

There is also the chance that we will be as close to second as we are seventh at the final whistle. I’m an optimist and feel that a win in front of the Sky cameras this weekend will all but cement our play-off place.

So why not enjoy the occasion rather than worry too much about the result. It’s been a long time since we have been able to ‘enjoy’ the tension at this stage of the season.

If we relax and don’t pass our worries on to the team, then hopefully they will feed off the positive atmosphere and produce the goods.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

KEITH INGHAM

Without doubt tomorrow’s teatime game (another moved by Sky!) will definitely test Leeds; Brighton won the game 2-0 earlier in the season and it wasn’t one of United’s best away performances.

Brighton have everything they need in a strong squad, although this has been tested by recent defensive injuries.

Managed by a good manager Chris Hughton, they looked ‘nailed on’ to win either the title or the other automatic promotion place, but recent defeats at Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest have seen the group below them get a little nearer. Players to be wary of are Anthony Knockaert, Glenn Murray and Sam Baldock who continue to give most defenders nightmares.

Garry Monk will have to make at least one change. Luke Ayling is suspended so Gaetano Berardi is likely to go to right-back with Charlie Taylor coming in on the left. The midfield five is up for debate as last week they struggled to give Chris Wood even a sniff of a chance. I’d opt for Bridcutt, Vieira, Dallas on the right, Roofe behind Wood and either Doukara or Pedraza on the left.

Hernandez may be a match winner but his consistency is a doubt, while Roofe isn’t a winger.

If Leeds can get out of this with three points I’ll travel home a very happy man.

Prediction: Leeds United 1 Brighton and Hove Albion 0.

DAVID WATKINS

They don’t come any bigger than this one! The form stats suggest that Brighton are right up there in the current form tables with the best of them but, believe it or not, Leeds United are ahead of them by one point over the last ten games! We have all been disappointed by the performances of late but the points have kept rolling in and a win, however unlikely for the Mighty Whites would pile the pressure on the handful of teams still trying to grab one of those precious play-off spots.

The Leeds defence will likely see the return of Charlie Taylor now that Luke Ayling is banned but I am hoping that actually strengthens our attacking potential as Charlie Taylor links up with Alfonso Pedraza on the left. The right-hand side has not worked particularly well in recent games despite Luke Ayling’s best efforts with a succession of wide-men failing to strike u a good partnership with him. Having recorded our first nil-nil draw of the season last week it would not surprise me one bit if, like those London buses, another one comes along straight away.

Prediction: Leeds United 0 Brighton and Hove Albion 0.

GARY NEWBOULD

It’s another stern tea-time, TV test for United when they take on high-flying Brighton tomorrow evening at Elland Road. The Seagulls arrive in second place, having lost only six league games this season and boast the meanest defence in the league and they look set to gain one of the two automatic promotion places.

I’d like to see Kemar Roofe occupy a more traditional “no 10 role” rather than out wide, to support Chris Wood and Charlie Taylor should replace the suspended Luke Ayling in defence. A much-improved performance from the 0-0 against QPR a week earlier will most definitely be required, however following Fulham’s late concession in midweek, a draw would not be a disastrous result in front of another packed house at LS11.

Prediction: Leeds United 1 Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

MATTHEW EVANS

A win in tomorrow evening’s game against Brighton will close the gap on second place to eight points.

That might still look like an impossible task but only the most defeatist of United supporters will have given up hope on that outside chance. It’ll only take another couple of results to fall right and everyone will be talking about automatic promotion again.

Brighton will provide a good test. We never really troubled them in the away fixture at the Amex Stadium, although we were hamstrung by Kalvin Phillips’ red card and undone by two penalties.

There’s been little spark or flair in recent weeks and we need to find it if it’s not to be a third draw in a row.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

MIKE GILL

All teams in the top six have shown varying amounts of vulnerability in the last few weeks. Brighton and Leeds are no exception to this rule. United’s defensive performances against Fulham and QPR have been flawless but they have to find a couple of goals from somewhere. It will be a fascinating encounter if not a pretty one.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Brighton and Hove Albion 1.

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