Leeds United v Middlesbrough: Big match preview

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Check out our at a glance guide to Leeds United’s clash with Middlesbrough at Elland Road.

GIUSEPPE BELLUSCI v JORDAN RHODES

Giuseppe Bellusci.

Giuseppe Bellusci.

Aitor Karanka declined the opportunity to start Jordan Rhodes against Blackburn Rovers or MK Dons but having signed the striker for £9m and with the top of the Championship becoming ever more tight, he is bound to field Rhodes from the outset at Elland Road this evening. United’s defence is prone to concessions and it is up to Bellusci and others around him to keep Boro’s new recruit in check.

KEY MAN

Grant Leadbitter: A fixture in Boro’s team for many years now and he is key to the way in which Karanka likes to play. Boro’s form owes much to an excellent defensive record, helped no end by the presence of Leadbitter and Adam Clayton in front of their backline. That pair give very little away and even though goals have been scarce for him this season, Leadbitter brings with him a threat from set-pieces.

LAST TIME

Saturday, August 16, 2014: Leeds United 1 Middlesbrough 0. Goals: Leeds – Sharp 88.

PHIL HAY SAYS

It would be difficult to predict a Leeds win with any great confidence. Boro are right in the mix for the title, they’ve lost six times in 28 league games and man-for-man they are stronger than Leeds in most positions.

The fact that Boro concede on average a single goal in every two matches means United will need to be far more creative than they were against Nottingham Forest last weekend – and minus Chris Wood, it is hard to see where their finishes are coming from

BETTING

Odds: Home win – 13/5; Draw – 13/5; Away win – 6/5.

NEW FACE: Japan's Yosuke Ideguchi against North Korea earlier this month. Picture: Masashi Hara/Getty Images.

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