Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s home clash with Preston North End.
Leeds made it two wins out of three games with three goals either side of half-time at Wolverhampton on Thursday. The 3-2 win was the club’s first win there for over 30 years. Leeds had been behind within ten minutes but came back to claim a great comeback win.
Unfortunately, this time of year is usually one of the least productive of the season and it’s a statistic that needs altering drastically if the club wants to go forward and not be known as a ‘nowhere club’ because league tables don’t lie and a place in mid-table is scant reward for United’s legion of supporters.
My problem at the moment is with the club’s owner.
Massimo Cellino bemoans the lack of respect the fans give him but does things to them (like the pie tax) and expects supporters to just accept it.
Also rumours of him ‘meddling’ in team tactics during the interval in games totally undermines the position of Steve Evans. Myself, I think the owner of a football club has to stay out of the dressing room until after games, if not completely. Cellino is losing my respect because I just don’t believe he is doing anything positive in regards of the club.
With the unfortunate injury to Gaetano Berardi, this leaves Scott Wootton as the right-back due to Evans’ reluctance to play Sam Byram in the position. It’s unfortunate that the still popular player is not contributing more than brief appearances from the substitutes’ bench, although he (Byram) did perform excellently in the midfield with two well taken goals at Wolves.
Captain Sol Bamba should be fit to play but may have to settle for a substitute’s role as Giuseppe Bellusci’s form has significantly improved in recent games and his partnership with Liam Cooper has yielded an improvement defensively. The introduction of Liam Bridcutt into midfield has without doubt helped the team defensively.
The only change I’d like to see is Jordan Botaka starting on the left, with either Mowatt or Adeyemi making way for him. Mirco Antenucci also offers an alternative if needed.
Sully Doukara’s impressive substitute appearance against Wolves gives Evans another option, he certainly changed the course of the game when he joined Chris Wood in attack.
It’s in this kind of game that Leeds need a victory to keep a safe gap from the lower reaches of the Championship and hopefully a better league place will attract players when the January transfer window opens.
I’m confident of a few goals and three points tomorrow.
Prediction: Leeds United 3 Preston North End 1.
Fresh from a stunning performance against Wolves on Thursday night, the small matter of Simon Grayson returning to Elland Road with his Preston side should be straightforward for us! For much of that first half at Molineux though we need to remember we were not very good! That changed dramatically when Souleymane Doukara got onto the pitch and in the first half hour of the second half we should have scored six! That we didn’t is still a worry – we have to be much more clinical – but there are signs that this squad is gaining in both confidence and togetherness.
Quite which XI Steve Evans will start with tomorrow is anyone’s guess; despite Wood’s glaring misses he and the Douk looked good together and I’d stick with that combo.
Preston come to Elland Road with only one win in 11 although no side has scored against them in their last four including joint-leaders Brighton. Leeds ought to win this but in the past this has been exactly when we lose!
Prediction: Leeds United 4 Preston North End 0.
Did Steve Evans stumble upon the answer to United’s mediocrity at Molineux on Thursday night?
Sam Byram certainly made a mockery of his recent absence from the first team and Souleymane Doukara made all the difference in what was a hugely unexpected win.
Preston will be another test but you’d imagine that Evans has to stick with the side that did most of the damage against Wolves.
That would mean another start for Byram and no place for Tom Adeyemi who looked off the pace.
It’s been a while since we were any good over Christmas but we are building some form and a win tomorrow will cement it.
Prediction: Leeds United 1 Preston North End 0.
It was a great result against Wolves and the game against Preston is another fantastic opportunity to push up the table. They have some tricky players, but if we sort our defence out, we could be convincing winners because our attack seems to be clicking.
Prediction: Leeds United 2 Preston North End 0.
The Christmas period kicks off with the visit of Simon Grayson’s Preston side. The holiday period was always a bad time for Leeds when Grayson was in charge so Steve Evans will be hoping for better fortunes now he is in charge.
He will be also hoping for a complete performance. Evans’ Leeds United are impressive in patches but although they blew Wolves away with 15 minutes of brilliance on Thursday for long periods, they were simply awful. A win here will really give the fans a shot of optimism that things might be looking up in 2016. With a host of mediocre sides in this division, any sort of consistent winning run will fire the Whites up the table. Leeds being Leeds, things will undoubtedly go wrong.
Prediction: Leeds United 1 Preston North End 1.
It will be an emotional return to LS11 for former United manager Simon Grayson who will be afforded a warm welcome. After four points on their travels this is the time to get a second successive win and hopefully head towards the top half of the table.
Prediction: Leeds United 3 Preston North End 1.