Birmingham City v Leeds United: YEP Jury predictions

Hadi Sacko.
Hadi Sacko.
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Our YEP Jury look ahead to Leeds United’s match at Birmingham City tonight.

MATTHEW EVANS

Gianfranco Zola.

Gianfranco Zola.

Promotion-chasing Leeds United can still go up automatically and that’s how everybody should be thinking until it’s a mathematical impossibility.

Both Brighton and Newcastle have shown some serious wobbles in recent weeks and Newcastle, in particular, are in a tough run of games.

Garry Monk’s stance of taking each game as it comes is the right one and I’m sure that’ll be the attitude tonight at St Andrew’s.

If the performance is anything like the one seen in our previous Friday-evening fixture then the travelling fans will go home happy.

Stuart Dallas.

Stuart Dallas.

Our broader task, however, should be to manoeuvre ourselves into a prime position to take advantage should one of the top two falter, however improbable that may seem.

Mentality is key in football and to our club more than most.

The longer we can delay our focus switching from chasing the leaders to clinging on to a play-off spot the better things will be.

And who really wants to experience the play-offs again anyway? Sure, it’s far preferable to any recent season we’ve had and we would have been delighted back in August, but the painful memory of four failed play-off attempts lives long.

While ever there’s a slight chance of being in the Premier League with our feet up in early May then that should be our goal. As ever though, there are factors conspiring against Leeds.

Garry Monk will be absent from the bench tonight and a number of players are walking a fine line for suspensions after a flurry of yellow cards from our recent refereeing appointments. If the next week of games goes favourably then we could be on Brighton’s coattails by the time they turn up at Elland Road.

We have shown a knack for grinding out results so far this season and there’s no reason that controlled and committed performances won’t see us pick up nine points from the next three games. Birmingham will present a tough test, as will Fulham and Queens Park Rangers, but I think we can get the win tonight.

Even if we don’t, just remember that sign hung in Revie’s dressing room: “Keep Fighting”.

Prediction: Birmingham City 1 Leeds United 2.

KEITH INGHAM

With Newcastle winning with a late goal at Brighton on Tuesday it seems that, with an eight-points gap to third, the Magpies look set to claim one of the automatic promotion spots.

I know there are still 12 games to play but they are in a comfortable position; Brighton may still have to look over their shoulders if they lose again.

Leeds travel to St Andrews tonight to face Birmingham City.

Since City sacked their former manager, Gary Rowett, results have been very poor – only one win achieved in 13 Championship games prior to last week’s victory at Wolves, which surprised many.

Gianfranco Zola was seen as a ‘change of direction’. It was, but a downward one!

Garry Monk has a near-full squad to pick from, only Lewie Coyle and Tyler Denton are absent through injury. Charlie Taylor is also now available.

Hadi Sacko has frustrated many supporters. He may have pace but his decision making is poor.

I’d like to see Mo Barrow given a chance to at least show what he can do, Stuart Dallas is another option on that wing.

Leeds have had some good and bad memories at St Andrews, but it’s a game that, if you’re going for the play-offs, a point is the least you’d expect to bring back to Yorkshire. I think they’ll get three.

Prediction: Birmingham City 1 Leeds United 2.

DAVID WATKINS

We’re down to the last dozen games of the regular season and, despite maybe not hitting the heights we have glimpsed occasionally this season, we are on another little roll. For three games we’ve done exactly what we need to; win at home and draw away. If we continue to do that until the end of the season then we’ll have 80 points which should be more than enough to get us a play-off spot.

A trip to St Andrews should not stop us continuing the run, the least we ought to be able to get there with the usual squad all fit and currently avoiding suspension is a point. That would do nicely but I’m not ruling out another three-point haul as the Blues under Gianfranco Zola have been poor. They did win at Wolves last time out but it was a real smash and grab affair with Wolves dominating the game and the Blues down to 10 men for much of the match. Before that though, Birmingham had just one win in 14 games.

Prediction: Birmingham City 1 Leeds United 2.

GARY NEWBOULD

After winning a thoroughly absorbing local derby United travel to St Andrews tonight to take on Birmingham City for yet another appearance in front of the television cameras. Following the crazy sacking of Gary Rowett, the Blues have struggled under Gianfranco Zola and have lost seven of their last 10 matches. However, last time out they defeated wolves 2-1 away, so beware a team still looking to impress their new manager. With 12 games to go another three points would be most welcome, especially looking at United’s remaining fixtures. It’s usually tight and tough at St Andrews but I think we’ll just edge it.

Prediction: Birmingham City 1 Leeds United 2.

STEPHEN CLARK

Leeds United once again are being asked to set the pace for the play-off race this weekend as they take on Birmingham City in front of the Sky TV cameras.

When these two sides met back in August it would have been a brave man who would have predicted that Leeds would be the side pushing for promotion this term. An opening home defeat at the hands of Gary Rowett’s side made it look like it would be another long season for the Whites, and that the Blues would be a real contender this season.

That was before the inexplicable decision made by the Birmingham board to replace Rowett with Gianfranco Zola, a move that has misfired spectacularly and has seen the club tumble down the table with positive results a rare commodity.

Leeds fans know better than most the mess that can be made by interference from “upstairs” but thankfully that seems to be a thing of the past at Elland Road. Instead Garry Monk has shown what can be done when a head coach is allowed to concentrate on his work and build things.

We enter this game on the back of a great result, and I expect very little in the way of changes from the side that beat Sheffield Wednesday last Saturday. Perhaps Stuart Dallas will return on the flanks in place of Souleymane Doukara, and I would like to see Mo Barrow or Alfonso Pedraza given a run in place of the pacy but wasteful Hadi Sacko.

Had I been offered four points from the games against Wednesday and Birmingham, I would have snapped your hand off. However after beating the Owls, I would be disappointed to only get a draw at St Andrews. I fancy Leeds to win and put even more distance between ourselves and the chasing pack.

Prediction: Birmingham City 0 Leeds United 2.

MIKE GILL

Gianfranco Zola’s men finally edged a nervy win against their neighbours Wolves last Friday. They had gone into a 2-0 lead before Paul Robinson was unfairly sent off. A good start in tonight’s game will be important for United as the St Andrews crowd soon go quiet when things are not going their way. I forecast yet another narrow win for the Whites.

Prediction: Birmingham City 1 Leeds United 2.

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