Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s clash at Middlesbrough
Leeds United love playing at the Riverside. Since Middlesbrough moved there in 1995, Leeds have lost just once in 13 visits and that despite usually arriving as underdogs as we will on Sunday.
Boro look strong this season. They currently sit second in the table with 17 points and five wins from eight games. They’ve lost only one league game, a surprise 1-0 home defeat to Bristol City. Since then though, Boro have won six on the spin including two Capital One Cup games. They eased past Wolves 3-0 this week, albeit with a much-changed side to the one we will see on Sunday.
Leeds go to the Riverside also with just one league defeat but our performances have been erratic to say the least.
In fact the run up to this game feels much like it did last February when we travelled to Teesside to face a Boro side sitting on top of the Championship.
Few of us forecast a win that day.
None the less we beat them, thanks to a third-minute goal from Alex Mowatt, his shot taking a wicked deflection that deceived the Boro ’keeper.
Marco Silvestri was in imperious form that day and the whole Leeds side defended that one goal lead for the rest of the game with manic heroism.
My gut feel is that for us to win this time we will need a similar heroic performance and another sizeable chunk of luck.
One interesting fact going into this game is that Leeds will be the highest-placed side in the Championship that Middlesbrough have faced so far this season which perhaps puts their record into better perspective.
Leeds, by contrast, have already played three of the current top six. Maybe Boro are not quite as good as their league position suggests. Let’s hope so anyway!
Another similarity with the game last season is that it is live on TV and that should help ensure some Boro fans stay at home while Leeds will again have the backing of around 3,000 fans.
It could be another famous Leeds away day!
Prediction: Middlesbrough 1 Leeds United 1.
Matters improved on the field last weekend as Leeds United survived an MK Dons fightback to register their second win of the season.
The team will have to be at its best though as they travel to an impressive Middlesbrough side for another live Sky performance at lunchtime on Sunday.
This is the biggest test so far in the season, even with our outstanding recent record against Boro.
Last season we beat them home and away.
On the team front, I expect Tom Adeyemi to return to midfield and hopefully Sam Byram will let his feet do his talking.
Marco Silvestri redeemed himself with a good display at MK Dons and I don’t expect any other changes to Uwe Rosler’s team.
Luke Murphy and Mirco Antenucci will again – probably – be alongside Jordan Botaka on the substitutes’ bench.
I didn’t think we’d win last week and I was wrong.
So, this week I predict it again and hope I’m wrong for the second week running!
There is, however and with respect, a big difference between MK Dons and Middlesbrough.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 2 Leeds United 0.
We play better football away from home. We look dangerous on the counter attack and that is going to be so important against an extremely strong Boro side. I think Adeyemi will be back to protect the defence, which will have to be better than last week.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 0 Leeds United 1.
United face their biggest test of the season so far.
Our last trip to the Riverside Stadium resulted in a very fortuitous 1-0 win, and we’ll need the same type of battling performance in defence if we are to repeat that.
The levels of commitment have been lacking for the last three games with the team, at times, having little urgency to try and get hold of the ball and do something with it.
It’s doubtful whether Massimo Cellino’s comments about Sam Byram will have improved team spirit this week but, hopefully, we will see Jordan Botaka make an appearance plus an all-round improved performance, meaning we take away at least a point.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 1 Leeds United 1.
Boro have put last year’s play-off final heartache behind them, currently lying in second place. However, last year United did the double over the Teessiders and, after two wins on the road, they should go into the fixture full of confidence.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 2 Leeds United 2.
Leeds are back in front of the cameras on Sunday for the trip to Middlesbrough, a game that seems to be a favourite of the TV schedulers.
The Riverside has been a happy hunting ground for Leeds with the Whites having lost there just once in recent times. Last season’s smash and grab was particularly satisfying, but there is no way Leeds can allow Boro to dominate the game as much this season if they are to have any hope of collecting three points. Middlesbrough have splashed the cash over the summer as they look to secure promotion to the top flight. Despite our recent successes at Boro, all good runs have to come to an end and I think Aitor Karanka’s men will be too strong for us.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 3 Leeds United 1.