Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s Championship clash at Cardiff City on Saturday.
The spectacular lightning forks above Elland Road on Tuesday night provided the only spark during another drab contest played out between two sides that, on that evidence, belong firmly at the bottom of the Championship table.
Nevertheless, Kyle Bartley’s late winner meant a step forward for United in a season that has seen more back and forth in a month than most other clubs experience in a year. The win also meant that Garry Monk could approach the post-match press pack with smiles and praise rather than petulance and excuses.
The cause of United’s early-season ineptitude is hard to pin down, with different games giving different areas for concern: the midfield was overrun at QPR, the defence shaky at Forest and the attack toothless against Huddersfield last Saturday.
It’s clear that some of our earliest displays were hampered by a woefully under planned pre-season and many players are only now approaching full fitness but, despite all of the doom and gloom, there is actually a lot to be positive about.
Pontus Jansson has only played around 240 minutes for Leeds United but is already well on his way to becoming a fan favourite and his partnership with Kyle Bartley looks the best we’ve had for years.
Hadi Sacko, Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe have all had bright spells of play that leave you longing for them to all fire at the same time.
We know all about Liam Bridcutt and his solid play was complemented by Eunan O’Kane on Tuesday night and, while struggling to get themselves into games, Chris Wood and Marcus Antonsson have still managed to get among the goals.
On paper, this is a talented and versatile squad with the challenge being in translating that promise onto grass. Part of the problem is in marrying new manager, new coaches and new players together into a seamless unit.
With that in mind, it’s crazy to think that our owner might genuinely think the answer is to start all over again.
Cardiff will be a far tougher challenge than Blackburn and will want to use home advantage to bounce back from defeat at Preston during the week. It might be a struggle for our attacking players but I think the defence will hold out for a goalless draw.
Prediction: Cardiff City 0 Leeds United 0.
Well it took four games to win a home game but three welcome points were added to the measly four we’d accumulated before the international break. It wasn’t pretty and not without flaws but it was 100 per cent better than what was offered up against Huddersfield Town.
Garry Monk decided to revert to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Pablo Hernandez just behind Marcus Antonsson and with Stuart Dallas and Hadi Sacko on the wings. Leeds, although frustrating at times, were always a danger through the wingmen, Sacko in particular gave the full-back a torrid evening and Leeds fully deserved the 2-1 win.
The hard part after a victory is continuing where you left off and Cardiff will be looking to get back to winning ways, after their 3-0 defeat at Preston.
The rivalry between the clubs is well known so expect a ‘battle’, with no favours given on either side.
I’m hoping that, for the first time Monk keeps the same XI, even though Chris Wood made a goal scoring impact off the bench against Rovers. Although the defence did allow Rovers to score a ‘soft’ equaliser, it was still superbly marshalled by the impressive Pontus Jansson, whilst Rob Green was alert late on. It’s a tough one to call and if Leeds leave Wales with a point, it will be a point gained methinks.
Prediction: Cardiff City 1 Leeds United 1.
Until last season, a trip to the new Cardiff City Stadium usually meant a return to Leeds with no points. But is it the same forbidding place these days? Last season we were pretty much down on our uppers when we travelled to South Wales on a Tuesday night, having only beaten soon to be relegated Bolton in the previous eight games. We came away with an unlikely 2-0 win.
This time, although admittedly at the other end of the season, we have just scraped through against more likely relegation fodder in Blackburn Rovers. Victory this time will help us believe this week’s win at Elland Road is indeed a turning point and not another false dawn. With Cardiff pummelled at Preston this week, this may, or may not be a good time to face them but I’m optimistically going for “turning point”!
Prediction: Cardiff City 0 Leeds United 2.
Following a much-needed midweek victory, United take the long trip southwards when they take on Cardiff City.
Courtesy of Sky, once again a lunchtime kick-off will mean a “pre-dawn” set off for the loyal hordes.
United ended a 30-plus year hoodoo with their victory in Wales last season and the Bluebirds have only one win to their name this season and were humbled 3-0 away at Preston in midweek.
It’s always a difficult match, however after an improved performance I’m expecting a share of the soils this time out.
Prediction: Cardiff City 1 Leeds United 1.
It’s not too long ago when Cardiff were one of the Championship’s top teams. At present however they are two points below Leeds.
Tuesday night saw a not-too-convincing victory over Blackburn for the Whites. However some positive signs were there. Certainly the shape of the side was better. Once again the defence looked much firmer. It was marshalled by Janssen who is a leader whether he wears an armband or not.
Hernandez had his best game yet as a proper no 10 and Monk said he should have stuck to his principles and played with a lone striker before. I agree.
Guess what? By playing this type of line-up we don’t have a shortage of strikers anymore and are spoiled for choice for midfield selection. We’re not such a good side that we can fret about who we leave out!
Carry on with this formation against Cardiff Gary and we’re worth at least a point.
Prediction: Cardiff City 0 Leeds United 1.
Leeds United head to South Wales in good heart following Tuesday night’s nailbiting victory over Blackburn Rovers. That win lifted the Whites out of the drop zone and they have a chance to create real daylight between themselves and the bottom three when they take on Cardiff tomorrow lunchtime.
The Bluebirds are in the relegation zone themselves at the moment and after burying the hoodoo that the Welsh side have held over us with a 2-0 win at the Cardiff City Stadium last season, the Whites will be confident of another win on the road.
Garry Monk has gone back to 4-2-3-1 in an effort to find his team’s identity and in my opinion it is a formation that suits us better than a rigid 4-4-2. The manager has a choice to make up front where the hard work of Marcus Antonsson has not brought much reward whereas the much-maligned Chris Wood came off the bench to score on Tuesday.
The atmosphere in the new Cardiff City Stadium is a much more sterile affair than the old cauldron that was Ninian Park and the travelling support should have no problem in outsinging the home fans in a sparsely populated arena. It might be blind optimism on the back of a win but I can genuinely see us winning this one and hopefully the season can finally get up and running.
Prediction: Cardiff City 1 Leeds United 2.