Leeds United v Middlesbrough: Jansson jumping for joy at prospect of tackling top-of-the-table rivals

Leeds United's Pontus Jansson. PIC: Simon Hulme
Leeds United's Pontus Jansson. PIC: Simon Hulme
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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.

Former Boro striker Patrick Bamford put three past Leeds the last time the sides met. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Former Boro striker Patrick Bamford put three past Leeds the last time the sides met. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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.”

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.

Middlesbrough manager Tony Pulis.

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.”