YEP Jury: Leeds United must continue ruthless streak when Jonathan Woodgate's Middlesbrough come to town

Our fans' panel have their say on Leeds United's home clash with Jonathan Woodgate's Middlesbrough.

By Mark Absolon
Friday, 29th November 2019, 11:45 am
Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate and assistant Robbie Keane.
Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate and assistant Robbie Keane.

ANDY RHODES

After adding goals to their game of late, Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds are cultivating somewhat of a ruthless reputation.

Tuesday’s win at Reading was their fourth in a row and fifth in seven games, during which they remained unbeaten. However, tomorrow’s game against Middlesbrough will be a different kettle of fish. Not only are Boro fighting at the bottom end of the table, but the Yorkshire derby will also see the return of former United’s stars Jonathan Woodgate and Robbie Keane.

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Leeds United players salute the fans after Tuesday's victory at Reading.

Thus far, the pair have struggled to get Boro playing the attack-minded football they promised, despite having much of the same squad that were second in the Championship at the same stage last season. Despite this, they are unbeaten in three and will be hoping a derby match will get them going. Leeds, though, will stick to their usual game plan and will hope that Patrick Bamford can find the net against his former club.

Including Middlesbrough, United’s next two opponents sit in 20th and 19th place respectively.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Middlesbrough 0.

DAVID WATKINS

Marcelo Bielsa.

The win at Reading was our sixth from six this season against sides in the bottom eight; two more, against Middlesbrough tomorrow and Huddersfield next week, will give us a clean sweep and keep us in the automatic promotion places.

The formula against teams from the lower reaches is now established; they will scrap and scrape without offering much going forward and it’s down to Leeds to come up with an answer to their stubborn resistance. We managed it this week at Luton and Reading and it will no doubt be the way of things against Boro if we are to be successful.

Jonathan Woodgate has had a difficult baptism in management and Boro, who most would have expected to be in the promotion mix, have struggled. No win in 10 before their victory this week against bottom side Barnsley is a dire run that has put them in deep trouble.

Boro are yet to win on their travels and only Derby, Barnsley and Reading have scored less away from home. Another Leeds win is the only result we can accept without frustration.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 Middlesbrough 0.

MATTHEW EVANS

We’ve been absolutely spoilt this week with two glorious late winners away from home and a maximum six points since the international break.

We’re also very nicely positioned for the run up to Christmas.

Our next four opponents have an average of less than one point per game so far this season, three of those upcoming fixtures are at home and we’re not leaving West Yorkshire for the best part of a month with our one away game being the derby at Huddersfield in a week’s time.

Nonetheless these games are all potential banana skins.

Expectation is going through the roof again and our Yorkshire rivals will all want to put in a good performance against us.

Our story is a familiar one, if we take our chances then we win comfortably but, no matter how dominant we are, our results remain tight.

I’m backing a more straight forward home victory but still not the thrashing that some team should be getting at some point.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Middlesbrough 0.

KEITH INGHAM

Tomorrow a past hero of mine brings his relegation-threatened team to Elland Road. Jonathan Woodgate was one of my favourite players in the team that rode the Champions League ‘train’ in the 2000/01 season. An impeccable centre-half who outshone his fellow centre-back Rio Ferdinand back in those heady days.

Times have changed for ‘Woody’ and for Leeds he didn’t have the best of luck with injuries as he made many big moves to famous clubs, while Leeds have fallen on hard times.

Football is like that, you enjoy the good times and endure the bad.

Leeds have four wins on the spin whilst Boro finally chalked up their first win in 11 gamaes against Barnsley. It’s not the best start to Woodgate’s career as boss and already he is under pressure to improve their results, or his first managerial job may be a short tenure.

This is a game Leeds should win by at least a couple of goals, but games against the ‘smoggies’ are never easy and it might just be a closer game than fans expect.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Middlesbrough 0.

MIKE GILL

Another war of attrition took place at Reading. It was clear from the beginning that there would not be a repeat of last season’s ‘stroll in the park’.

The Royals were big spenders in the close season and Mark

Bowen’s principle task was to steady the ship. Another team had set up to defend and hope for the odd counter attack. Ugly stuff, redeemed only by the beautiful move which led to Jack Harrison’s late goal.

It will be surprising if Middlesbrough don’t dish up more of the same, with Jonathan Woodgate fighting for his life and looking almost as sheepish as when David O’Leary’s book came out!

Yet it seems that the Whites are finding ways to counter the negativity.

It was clear at Reading and Luton Town that United’s superior fitness has paid big dividends especially late in the games.

Woodgate was a fine player during his time at Elland Road and all fans will wish him well.....but not until after 5pm tomorrow.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 Middlesbrough 1.

SHAUN SMITH

The quest to solve the conundrum of perpetual motion continues.

Absolute zero temperatures applied to the principles of Foucault’s pendulum gets close. Jack Harrison gets closer.

Jack receives stick once reserved for players like Stuart Dallas, Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips.

Strangely, he appears, like photons, in more than one place at a time.

He is involved in most things going forward and contributes to a defence as mean as a Yorkshire accountant.

He is one of three future England internationals in the Leeds side. Boro?

Prediction: Leeds United 3 Middlesbrough 0.