Leeds United Jury: Confident Whites must be wary of Monk’s ‘hard-to-beat’ Blues

Birmingham City manager, Garry Monk. PIC: Simon Bellis/Sportimage.
Birmingham City manager, Garry Monk. PIC: Simon Bellis/Sportimage.
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Our fans’ panel look ahead to Leeds United’s home clash with Birmingham City.

ANDY RHODES

Birmingham City danger man Jota. PIC: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Birmingham City danger man Jota. PIC: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Leeds will go into tomorrow’s clash with Garry Monk’s Birmingham with their tails up, fresh off the back of results in two tricky games.

Millwall was always going to be a test of confidence and character, and after breezing past Preston with the Carabao Cup defeat still fresh in the mind, Leeds have those attributes in abundance. Like Leeds’ past two opponents, Birmingham have made a less-than-impressive start to the season, picking up just five points from their opening seven league games.

They lost only twice during that time but Monk will be concerned that none of those opening seven games were victories, while their total of five goals scored before Wednesday’s game at Sheffield United was the lowest in the league.

Many might say that the weekend’s clash will be a home banker, but Marcelo Bielsa is more pragmatic than that and he is all too aware of the threat of complacency.

Tyler Roberts celebrating his first goals for Leeds United on Tuesday night. PIC: Nigel French/PA Wire

Tyler Roberts celebrating his first goals for Leeds United on Tuesday night. PIC: Nigel French/PA Wire

While Leeds are in this rich vein of form they need to take full advantage.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Birmingham City 1.

DAVID WATKINS

The midweek win did more to convince me this could be THE season than any other game.

Preston languish near the bottom, haven’t scored away and are missing key players but we needed to prove we are capable of seeing off such teams without our genius play-maker, Pablo Hernandez. We did it in style and we saw that, if we are patient with them, the deputies can thrive. Tyler Roberts took some stick at Millwall but showed he is every bit as clinical as Kemar Roofe while Jack Harrison improves every game.

On to Birmingham, where Garry Monk has not yet found a winning habit but they don’t often lose either; a tough run of fixtures has seen draws with Forest, Swansea, Albion, QPR, Norwich, and, this week, Sheffield United. A narrow defeat at Boro proved they are no mugs.

City will be more competent than Preston and have conceded just five league goals.

But I’m going with the optimistic view that the Bielsa Bentley Mk2 has the capacity to be every bit as dominant as the early-season Mk1.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Birmingham City 1.

KEITH INGHAM

Sometimes you don’t question what is happening at your favourite football team, you just enjoy it! Leeds, sitting pretty at the top of the Championship is one of those moments after another superb performance against the only team to beat us this far. The comprehensive 3-0 victory over Preston could have been a ‘proper stuffing’ as chances were missed, the only complaint you could level at a few players. It was a great display.

It turns out that losing Kemar Roofe, Pablo Hernandez, Gaetano Berardi and Patrick Bamford isn’t harming Leeds in the short term as the players brought in to replace them have done an excellent job. Jack Harrison and Tyler Roberts have weighed in with three goals and at the other end, Pontus Jansson seems to be back to the form that made him so respected last season and earned him a place in Swedish national side at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Garry Monk brings his Birmingham City side into Leeds 11 tomorrow with them sitting 20th in the Championship with six points from eight games. The 0-0 draw at Sheffield United was hard fought and they have a decent defence but not much up front. They will still be a tough challenge that Leeds will find hard to break down.

With the injuries to Kemar Roofe, Gaetano Berardi and Pablo Hernandez, it will probably be ‘as you were’ and Marcelo Bielsa will likely keep his table toppers unchanged.

A sell-out crowd will be hoping that Leeds will put one over one of their ex coaches, Monk’s departure still rankles with a few because of the way he left and he will certainly get a ‘warm’ reception from the home fans.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Birmingham City 0.

MIKE GILL


After their draws with Middlesbrough and Millwall, any worries about taking Preston on at Elland Road on Tuesday night were dispelled when the Whites put on a high-energy show and destroyed their opponents 3-0.

Except for a flat period at the beginning of the second half, United dominated this game in such a way that Preston must have been praying for the match to end.

The only disappointment was that the Whites didn’t grab more goals.

Birmingham City will provide tougher opposition than North End but Blues fans must be disappointed with their start to the season.

Perhaps the kindest thing that you can say about them is that they have drawn several games that they were expected to lose.

On paper they have several good players and United must keep a close watch on Jota.

The return of former Whites manager Garry Monk will also add a bit of spice along with a sell-out crowd at Elland Road.

Prediction: Leeds United 4 Birmingham City 1.

MATTHEW EVANS

Only a couple of years ago we couldn’t buy a Tuesday-night win when 18 or 19 thousand of us would trudge to Elland Road expecting the worst.

That makes it all the more remarkable how routine we made the win against Preston seem. In front of a crowd about 50 per cent bigger than those dark days, we should have won 7-0 or more. There was no feverish atmosphere in the stadium, no real concern that we might not do it, just a satisfied hum as United dismantled Preston with apparent ease.

Birmingham City may offer a tougher test but they will be dreading a visit to Leeds and you would be mad to bet against us right now. How many times have we been able to say that recently? Tyler Roberts will want to firm up a first-team place with more goals after opening his account on Tuesday while Samuel Saiz is in the best form of his Leeds career. Add in the likes of Jack Harrison, Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Pontus Jansson getting better game by game and I think this is another comfortable win in the making.

Let’s hope so!

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Birmingham City 0.

SHAUN SMITH

There is a word in the football vernacular which describes an outside toilet but means a manner of play that relies on dark arts and thuggery.

We have visited the proverbial outbuilding twice in one week and have emerged unscathed. A point at Millwall feels like a win and Preston, who muscled their way to being the only team to defeat United a few weeks back, were this time disposed of like soggy tissue.

Birmingham, a club in the financial do-do, look like a side ready to be beaten. Pep Clotet, the Blues’ coach, is a huge admirer of Marcelo Bielsa and says that the Argentinian is his coaching inspiration. Nice a chap as Clotet is, I’m afraid his visit will garner little more than a smile and a handshake. This looks like three more points for Leeds who have demonstrated they can accommodate absentees. Pablo Hernandez is a miss, so is Kemar Roofe but there are young pretenders ready to ascend the throne.

Bielsa has his bucket but as a club we are sitting comfortably, warm and cosy and ready to flush.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 Birmingham City 0.