Leeds United v Watford: YEP Jury predictions

Billy Sharp.

Billy Sharp.

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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s home clash with Watford

MATTHEW EVANS

After expending enough effort to win several football matches in the 1-0 win at Middlesbrough it was hardly surprising that, with a long midweek trip to the south coast, Leeds struggled to replicate that intensity against Brighton.

It was a pedestrian performance that wasn’t helped by the loss of Sam Byram from the starting line up. Byram, Rodolph Austin and Steve Morison have been instrumental since the turn of the year in providing relentless running, harrying and generally putting opposing teams on the back foot, giving United a crucial advantage.

On Tuesday night Casper Sloth failed to come anywhere near the standard of Byram while Morison, clearly struggling with injury, had an off-night.

Without that level of performance further up the field the defence came under increasing pressure and eventually succumbed to a Brighton attack that is better than the club’s league position suggests.

Neil Redfearn’s priority tomorrow has to be to find a cutting edge up front. If that’s not going to be through the fatigued legs of Morison and Byram then he should look to Billy Sharp, Adryan and Brian Montenegro. Our wealth of attackers also includes Mirco Antenucci, Souleymane Doukara and Edgar Cani who were all thrown on for cameo appearances at Brighton but were entirely unconvincing.

The play-offs are a forlorn hope and relegation is unlikely. Nevertheless, these are crucial games for the players to test themselves, try new things and it’s a useful time for youngsters to pick up valuable experience.

Off the field, with Massimo Cellino out of the picture, Andrew Umbers needs to look at tying down our prize assets (think Byram, Cook, Mowatt, Taylor) as well as offering Austin the contract extension that his recent form deserves.

For a club that specialises in drama, a mid-table finish will always feel like an anti-climax but it was always the case that 2014/2015 would be a transitional season and, aside from the serious mis-steps in managerial appointments, it’s hard to argue that the squad is anything other than improved.

Watford’s visit will provide a great opportunity to prove that the players are growing in strength and confidence and can bounce back from a poor performance and defeat.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Watford 1.

KEITH INGHAM

Leeds United’s 2-0 defeat at Brighton poured cold water on hopes they could challenge for a place in the top six.

The defeat could have been heavier but for another good performance by Marco Silvestri – his double save late on was brilliant.

Nothing should surprise Leeds United fans but Massimo Cellino’s decision to ‘distance’ himself from the club with a matchday announcement certainly surprised this one. He has done it so the Football League will, hopefully, leave the club alone. We can hope anyway! Is it the beginning of the end or the start of a new beginning for the Italian owner? Only time will tell.

Leeds face Watford tomorrow, a team in form and inside the top six, and one that should be there or thereabouts come May.

In Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo they have strikers that will test the much-improved Leeds defence.

Sam Byram was out injured and Giuseppe Bellusci was suspended for the Brighton fixture but Byram could be fit for the weekend. Liam Cooper reclaimed the captain’s armband and should continue his partnership with Sol Bamba. Steve Morison was substituted early in the second half on Tuesday but the head coach expects him to be fit for the weekend. I don’t foresee any other changes to the team.

Without doubt this is a tough game but I hope that Leeds can get back to winning ways tomorrow.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Watford 1.

STEPHEN CLARK

Two defeats in nine games is pretty good form in anyone’s book, so the defeat at Brighton on Tuesday shouldn’t be seen as a disaster. The performance was disappointing, but had we been offered three points from the two away games last week we would have taken them.

The squad may have numbers, but what it doesn’t have is a great deal of quality underneath the first XI. Injuries to Sam Byram and Steve Morison exposed the weak areas of the side and a change in tactics may be required for the visit of Watford, who are in the thick of the promotion race. With Ipswich to come as well this week, it may be a sobering few days in comparison to the last few weeks of relative success.

Prediction: Leeds United 1 Watford 1.

GARY NEWBOULD

After the midweek setback at Brighton, United will be looking to return to winning ways against promotion-chasing Watford tomorrow.

The Whites have saved their best performances thus far this season for the teams towards the top end of the division, however they have already been stung 4-1 by the Hornets earlier this season and the visitors possess pace and power in abundance. United certainly missed Sam Byram the last time out and it’s hoped that both he and Steve Morison regain fitness for a game that is expected to produce plenty of attacking entertainment.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Watford 1.

JAMES HARRISON

Watford are a great side and look one of the certainties to reach the play-offs. They had a comfortable victory over Rotherham in the week so they are coming into the game full of confidence.

We were poor on Tuesday night at Brighton. We lacked that energy we have had in previous weeks and never looked like we would get something from the game. We really missed Sam Byram in the wide areas.

Casper Sloth and Alex Mowatt never ran at defenders and we didn’t look threatening.

I don’t understand why Billy Sharp can’t seem to get on the field. He is twice the player of Edgar Cani and Souleymane Doukara and is a proven goal scorer at this level.

Prediction: Leeds United 1 Watford 1.

JONATHAN FORD

Tuesday night wasn’t nice but we looked like the run and especially the Boro game had taken its toll. Watford are a good team, but as form would show, so are we. However, we seem to struggle with a plan B; let’s hope Byram and Morison are fit.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Watford 1

Kyle Bartley. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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