YEP Jury: Leeds United will need to be very wary of the wounded ‘draw specialists’

Leeds United's Patrick Bamford.
Leeds United's Patrick Bamford.
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Our fans’ panel have their say on Leeds United’s Yorkshire derby at Middlesbrough.

ANDY RHODES

Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis.

Middlesbrough boss Tony Pulis.

Tomorrow will see another big game and an eighth Yorkshire derby of the season as Leeds head to Teesside to face a wounded Middlesbrough.

After their midweek cup defeat this could either be the best or worst time to play a Tony Pulis side, depending on how you look at it.

On Tuesday they were comfortably outplayed by a side 57 places below them in the English football pyramid, so you would expect them to come out fighting tomorrow.

Boro looked fragile and scared to attack in that game, a criticism that has stuck all season.

Kalvin Phillips.

Kalvin Phillips.

The likes of Pablo Hernandez and Patrick Bamford will be licking their lips at the prospect of attacking a jaded defence.

They may still be licking their wounds from midweek but Pulis will ensure his players are up for the fight come 1pm and, with Leeds in a poor run of form, who knows which team will fancy it more.

If Leeds get going, though, this could be a big result.

Prediction: Middlesbrough 0 Leeds United 2.

DAVID WATKINS

A year ago we fought off the Beast from the East to witness Patrick Bamford’s first-ever senior hat-trick.

It was scored for Boro though not Leeds and we succumbed to a miserable 3-0 defeat and promotion drifted away.

This year we may have Patrick in our side; his second triple would be the perfect tonic for a side wobbling with promotion again tantalisingly close.

Middlesbrough also still fancy their chances of promotion and a Boro win would cut the deficit to Leeds to just four points. Boro are on a nice little Championship run, undefeated in five with wins at West Brom and Birmingham and a draw at Derby, although they crashed out of the FA Cup this week at Newport fielding a strong side. Their home form has been patchy – three defeats and five draws from 14 games.

The tightest defence in the Championship will be tough to crack so, if we come away with a decent performance and a point, I’ll be well satisfied. A win and we can go into the final third of the season with confidence restored.

Prediction: Middlesbrough 1 Leeds United 1.

KEITH INGHAM

To say the trip to Boro is the most important of the season may be a little strong but it is, without doubt, a game Leeds really need something from.

Leeds aren’t on a good run, only two wins in six games isn’t the form of a team looking to go up automatically. The way Leeds are surrendering ‘soft’ goals is still a problem that needs sorting fast!

Tony Pulis has a pretty impressive home record and a squad that, on paper, looks like it should be challenging for an automatic promotion place but sits fifth in the Championship, seven points behind Leeds. They have drawn 11 games so far but have lost only five which is equal to leaders Norwich City.

It looks like a game that may struggle to produce goals and it may be the odd one is enough to get three points. Leeds would be happy with a point and so would I. A win though would be a timely boost for United.

Come kick-off Leeds may find themselves out of the top two if Sheffield United beat Aston Villa at Villa Park, just the incentive to put in a much better performance than last week.

Prediction: Middlesbrough 1 Leeds United 1.

MIKE GILL

Barring accidents, Marcelo Bielsa has the unusual luxury of selecting his team from an almost full squad.

The problems which need solving after Norwich will need every ounce of his ingenuity. Adam Forshaw, statistically, is one of the best-performing midfielders in the Championship and yet his few mistakes have been very costly. If Kalvin Phillips cannot boast as many completed passes per game then he can demonstrate his tigerish recovery on the rare occasions that he does give the ball away.

Barry Douglas or Gjanni Alioski? Mateusz Klich or Forshaw further forward? Two from Kemar Roofe, Patrick Bamford and Tyler Roberts or all three?

Luke Ayling and Pontus Jansson need a new spark and the latter should avoid tiring his voice out talking to the Swedish press and then having to qualify his statements with all the conviction of a politician after an unwise speech. Middlesbrough are dour and uncompromising like their manager, Tony Pulis. They will be licking their wounds after the reverse at Newport and we can expect another tough encounter.

Prediction: Middlesbrough 1 Leeds United 1.

MATTHEW EVANS

We travel to Middlesbrough tomorrow with hope in our hearts but fear on our minds.

It is perfectly typical of the Leeds support that the defeat to Norwich has created such angst even though nobody would have bet against a disappointing outcome before kick-off. It’s the same this week. It’s not unlikely that Middlesbrough take all three points but what it would represent is a drop off in form that would suggest United are in a huge battle to grab one of the top spots.

Boro have their own worries having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Newport County during the week.

We’ve been there and done that and can only hope that it has a similar demoralising effect on our opponents as it did for us last season.

I expect Kalvin Phillips to return to the side and Patrick Bamford could be key after his display against Norwich at the weekend.

Middlesbrough are the ‘draw specialists of the Championship’.

And I think that is the most likely outcome.

Prediction: Middlesbrough 1 Leeds United 1.

SHAUN SMITH

My dog has been looking at me quizzically and mournfully all week. Walks have been shorter, sticks thrown with less enthusiasm and I’ve been less disposed to hand out treats.

She is wondering what she has done wrong but I have begun to explain to her that Marcelo Bielsa has accepted full responsibility and she is being given, as I write, a gravy bone or two.

I have further explained that things are likely to improve as Patrick Bamford has acknowledged a debt of three goals to Leeds United fans and, being a perfect gentleman, he is likely to honour it tomorrow. With the early kick-off,

I will have time to pop down to the butchers and get her some marrow bones, if all goes well. The dog therefore has been drawn into the collective angst of ‘ups and downs’ and is as much a victim of supporting LUFC as her owner and his offspring.

The dog is a hapless victim and as her large doleful eyes look up at me I am conscious that on Saturday afternoon there is a chance that she will be wagging her tail and gnawing away at a ridiculously large bone, irrationally content. Every dog has its day and I still hold on to a mental image of sometime in May, man and dog on a Yorkshire beach, the happiest souls on earth.

Prediction: Middlesbrough 1 Leeds United 2.