Leeds United v PNE: YEP jury give their predictions

Kemar Roofe.
Kemar Roofe.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s home clash with Preston North End.

MATTHEW EVANS

Simon Grayson.

Simon Grayson.

It has been as bad a week as United have experienced this season, certainly since that opening month or so, but this is not the time for weak hearts or defeatism.

Neither of our performances ‘down south’ was a complete disaster. We were stifled by a poor referee coupled with Reading’s spoiling tactics on Saturday and in-form Brentford found the upper hand in what was a fairly open game on Tuesday.

Back at home we should be able to find our feet again especially against opponents that have already shipped four goals against United in a game where Chris Wood barely featured.

Preston will have reason to come at us given that their own play-off hopes are far from over.

That is when United have been at their best this season, soaking up pressure and exploiting gaps at the other end.

Simon Grayson’s return is just another point of intrigue given it is six years since he presided over United’s fall to seventh place, just in time for us to miss out on the play-offs.

If that was to happen again, with Preston taking our place, it would be an incredibly cruel irony.

Let’s not dwell too much on that though because United are fully in the driving seat. We’ve not lost more than two in a row since the beginning of the season and are very strong at Elland Road. Three home wins would likely see us secure a play-off place and then it’s how you perform under the pressure of any extra games in May.

These players have given their all and, in stark contrast to previous seasons, there has been no questioning the commitment and will to win from everybody involved.

Garry Monk has expertly guided what must be the most cost-efficient squad in the league to a position that nobody could have hoped for nor predicted back in August.

For all those reasons, there’s nothing more for the Leeds United fanbase to do than to provide the vocal support necessary to drive this season home.

There were some rumblings of negativity and disquiet in the away end at Griffin Park on Tuesday; let’s put those to bed tomorrow.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 Preston North End 1.

KEITH INGHAM

Two defeats in two away trips doesn’t make good reading but let’s remember where we’ve come from: a team going nowhere to a team that, for a number of months, has been a fixture in the top six of the Championship.

And with six games to play Leeds have the best chance in a long time to qualify for the end-of-season play-offs.

I’m not saying it’s perfect, because performances have been far from that, but whatever happens next is still in our hands, or should I say feet. Those who read the column regularly will have seen that I see changing the team constantly as a bad thing.

Sutton apart, I struggle to see much Garry Monk has done wrong since August, apart from these occurrences. But now I feel that the reliance on the system that brought the team so far has been ‘found out’ and something, albeit small and simple, needs to be altered.

Hoping Chris Wood can win the ball, beat a man and score a goal every time is very naive and teams set up now to nullify this, so I’d use Kemar Roofe just behind Wood with Sacko.

But the midfield needs to be quicker and braver to support whoever is running the line. These next six games need brave/strong men to get the wins we need to guarantee a top-six place, starting against Preston.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Preston North End 0.

DAVID WATKINS

Two defeats on the road maintaining our appalling record of post international break results have got the nerves jangling amongst the fan base and heaped more pressure on the team ahead of another difficult looking fixture against Preston.

Simon Grayson’s men come into the game unbeaten in five including Tuesday’s 5-0 demolition of Bristol City and a 3-0 win against Reading and it looks a tough ask for Leeds to get the three points we all crave. But get them we must; by most people’s reckoning we probably need three wins to be certain of one of those precious top six places and the games against Preston, Wolves and Burton look the best bets. Failure to win those and you could easily see either Wednesday or Fulham denying us.

Garry Monk appears to be struggling to decide who his best options are on the wings with all of them spending time on the pitch in the two games this week but none of them really making a mark. I would prefer to see Charlie Taylor and Pedrazza on the left and Ayling with anybody on the right to try to give attacking options both ways but we need to recapture our winning ways whoever plays.

Prediction: Leeds United 1 Preston North End 0.

GARY NEWBOULD

After two defeats on the bounce on the road it’s a welcome return to LS11 for The Whites tomorrow when they host Preston. Simon Grayson’s men arrive at Elland Road boosted by a midweek thumping of Bristol City, however they need wins not draws from their remaining games to have any chance of reaching the play-offs which will hopefully lead to an open game.

After much chopping and changing recently I’m hopeful that Garry Monk will play his strongest XI which should mean a long overdue start for Kemar Roofe. With just six games remaining and a trip to Newcastle coming up this looks like a must-win in front of a packed and nervous Elland Road.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 Preston North End 2.

STEPHEN CLARK

Are we nervous yet? A bad week for Leeds United has certainly cast a little doubt on our play off chances to even the most optimistic of supporters but Garry Monk’s side have a chance to calm those fears when they take on Preston at Elland Road on Saturday.

Despite those two defeats, Leeds are still in a fairly comfortable position, with most of the teams who would threaten our place in the top six dropping points as well in the last seven days. And most promotion pushes feature a wobble at some point. At exactly this point in 2010 we had lost four games on the bounce before finding our feet again in the League One promotion campaign.

Garry Monk tried to change things in terms of personnel on Tuesday, and finding the right end between attack and defence is key if Leeds are to confirm a place in the top six. I would like to see Kemar Roofe given an opportunity in the side, possibly in place of a tiring Pablo Hernandez, on Saturday.

Preston are on a good run, but have had problems on the road. Leeds are strong at home, and with Elland Road likely to be packed again, should settle the nerves with a home win.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Preston North End 0.

MIKE GILL
After two defeats in succession the Whites return to Elland Road to do battle with Grayson’s in-form side. Defensive frailty especially against Brentford and a lack of goals in both of their recent games has turned this fixture into a mighty big game. A good start and a noisy crowd are essential to put them back on track.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Preston North End 0.

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