Leeds United Jury: Expect Reading to exploit United’s weak left flank

Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
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Our YEP jury have their say on Leeds United trip to Reading tomorrow.

SHAUN SMITH

Pablo Hernandez.

Pablo Hernandez.

Reading took advantage of Leeds United’s quirky experiment of going an entire season without a left-back when they visited Elland Road earlier in the season.

Catching us on the hop, they did very un-Reading-like things – like attacking.

Passing the ball forwards, Jaap Stam’s boys got down the wings and hurt us, especially on our left.

In the transfer window we all imagined we’d signed Laurens De Bock as a left-back, but maybe they’ve been slipping LSD or some other hallucinogenic into the tea at Elland Road because, well, we’re still in need of a left-back and have since Charlie Taylor left back in the summer.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell saves at the feet of Leo Bonatini.

Bailey Peacock-Farrell saves at the feet of Leo Bonatini.

There is no reason to think that Reading might not try the same sneaky – sensible – trick again.

I expect Leeds to dominate the terraces and with the sheer relief that we’re not playing Wolves again, possibly ever, we might score a goal and emerge from what is the deadest of rubbers, with a point.

It’s what Reading do.

Prediction: Reading 1 Leeds United 1.

MATTHEW EVANS

It was men against boys on Wednesday and a glimpse into a bleak season’s end for all of us.

Paul Heckingbottom’s bizarre revelation that, even as manager, he doesn’t get to organise how we defend set-pieces is yet another bewildering quirk for a club that has had hundreds. Say what you like about how Wolves have done it, but they looked a formidable side and could be a decent Premier League side next season.

For United, that seems a long way off. Wolves were relegated to this level along with us in 2004 and look likely to be back for a second time since then next year. They’ve even had time for a stint in League One in the intervening period while we have stagnated. The other club relegated from the Premier League in 2004 was Leicester City and they’ve been Champions since!

Bailey Peacock-Farrell acquitted himself well against Wolves despite being at fault for the third goal and deserves to keep his spot, and Pablo Hernandez did enough to show there is no excuse for leaving him on the bench.

All in all, we just hope that a better result is on the way. We go to Reading in the hope of finding some sort of sense to our play, our team selections and our future.

It’s a long way to travel if not.

Prediction: Reading 1 Leeds United 2.

KEITH INGHAM

Leeds were ‘mauled’ by Wolves 3-0 on Wednesday despite an impressive second appearance by Bailey Peacock-Farrell in goal. The youngster was the one bright spot in another depressing performance. Wolverhampton look like they will be going up as champions, but they won this game without breaking sweat as the Leeds defence once again gifted them their goals.

What is clear after six games of Paul Heckingbottom’s tenure is that quite clearly a change of head coach hasn’t majorly changed results, still players are making simple mistakes costing Leeds games and unfortunately some players simply aren’t up to the challenge, or so it seems by the way they are performing.

Reading, under Jaap Stam have underachieved more than Leeds! Play-off finalists to a team five points from a bottom-three place is nearly as surprising as United’s fall from grace. Last time out they drew 1-1 with Bolton Wanderers.

We have yet to see a settled side at Leeds. Heckingbottom was reluctant to throw in Bailey Peacock-Farrell but did so and the youngster performed well against Wolves and should keep his place.

The only players that seem to play week after week are Gaetano Berardi, Pontus Jansson, Liam Cooper (he limped off during the Wolves game so may be absent for Reading), Adam Forshaw and Samuel Saiz. The rest of the team seem to change on a weekly basis. I’m not sure if he knows his ‘best’ starting line-up yet. I think even fans would struggle to pick an XI based on current performances.

Leeds have not done well at Reading recently, only one win in the last five visits there. It’s probably another game that the result will hinge on which team wants it the most. Hopefully, for a change, it will be Leeds.

Prediction: Reading 1 Leeds United 1.

MIKE GILL

Leeds United were outclassed by Wolves on Wednesday, but showed more guts than when they capitulated to Middlesbrough last Friday.

The selection of Bailey Peacock-Farrell was a brave one on Paul Heckingbottom’s part and the youngster did not let him down. Even the third goal was the result of him making a decision and committing himself.

Better that way than dithering.

Heckingbottom must now back him until the end of the season.

Reading are in the unenviable position of being the only team in the Championship to amass fewer points than Leeds in 2018 and so we must be looking for a positive result.

Reading have only 35 points and relegation is a real possibility for them.

Their fall from grace since reaching the play-offs last season shows just how tough the Championship is.

Reading’s recent form would suggest a draw but Heckingbottom will be looking for a win and United should accept nothing less.

Prediction: Reading 1 Leeds United 2.

DAVID WATKINS

Leeds United go to the Madejski this weekend knowing it’s probably the biggest must-win game they’ve faced all season.

Paul Heckingbottom’s first five games were all something of a free hit coming as they did after the humiliation of a 4-1 defeat to Cardiff and all being against top eight sides. Most fans thought we’d be lucky to get any points from this run, but in the event we’ve secured five and, if we’d been able to see out the Derby game, we’d have got two more. Not too shabby against top opposition.

But Reading are not in the same class and may soon not be in the same league if they can’t conjure up some wins themselves.

The same goes for our following two games against Sheffield Wednesday and Bolton. It may not be stretching the point too much to suggest that Hecky’s future might be riding on these next three results.

Having said all that it’s worth noting that the Royals are above Leeds in the 10-game form table having taken seven points from the last 30. Leeds have taken just six.

And only Sunderland are worse and that’s only by goal difference!

Come on Leeds, don’t turn a drama into another crisis!

Prediction: Reading 0 Leeds United 2.

Pontus Jansson

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