LEEDS UNITED centre-back Pontus Jansson is relishing the prospect of a “crazy atmosphere” against Middlesbrough at Elland Road tonight, admitting: “These are the games you want to play.”
Only goal difference separates the two unbeaten sides at the top of the Championship with the Friday-night showdown set to be witnessed by a near-sell-out crowd at Elland Road.
Leeds – or Middlesbrough – will be looking at a three-point lead at the top of the division heading into the international break given victory and Jansson admits the top-of-the-table clash will be one to savour both for players and fans.
“Those games are the games you want to play as a footballer,” said Jansson.
“Hopefully it will be a full Elland Road; it’s going to be a crazy atmosphere and these are the games you want to play.
“It’s a game between the first and the second team in the table which is always a nice game to play.”
Jansson helped Leeds to a 2-1 victory against the Riversiders in the corresponding league fixture last November but the Swede and his Whites team-mates endured a night to forget when trounced 3-0 in the reverse tie on a freezing Friday night back in March in which Patrick Bamford bagged a hat-trick.
Five months later, striker Bamford is now United’s man having sealed a £7m switch to Elland Road.
Jansson said: “There are a lot of new players in their team and a lot of new players in our team so it’s going to be two different teams on Friday, but we know it’s going to be a tough one and an important game.
“They still have the same coach as last year and Tony Pulis likes to be a compact team and they believe a lot in them being big players and their set-pieces and throw-ins and things like that.
“That’s what we have to switch on and prepare for because it’s going to be a tough one.
“I’ve seen a couple of games of Boro, they are physical, strong and a tall team so it’s going to be a tough one but an interesting opponent to play.”