Preview: Leeds v Blues – 22/09/18

Another two games have gone by and another two draws are on the board. More dominant performances have built up optimism among Blues fans, but we are still waiting for the three points to come. Up next, away to top of the table Leeds United.

Build Up

Blues should’ve beaten West Brom, Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest, Swansea and Norwich this season. All of these teams are currently in the top half and will be focused on promotion. The performances are there from a team limited in depth, the only clear and visible issue is (and has been for years) is goal scoring. Bogle and Adams have been uninspiring alongside Juke, who has been fantastic this season despite not having too much luck in front of goal.

Regularly, you see Blues fans stating how our fortunes will change and the win will come etc. There’s no denying that we will eventually gain our first three points, but we can’t rely on luck or fortunes in order for it to come. Fortunately, we have a fantastic manager in Monk who is able to motivate the squad and not let the winless side feel sorry for themselves. Blues sides of the past have rolled over and had many consecutive games without a win. This feels different thanks to the performances, but it doesn’t bode well looking at the league table.

Maikel Kieftenbeld was left out of Wednesday’s game with a knock, but he should return alongside Craig Gardner. Leeds are likely to name an unchanged side, however Adam Forshaw has recovered from injury.

Opposition Opinion

For the build-up to the game, We Are Birmingham spoke to KC from Leeds United podcast Mighty Whites Pod on today’s game.

Leeds have made their best ever start to a season outside of the top flight and optimism is high around the club. Marcelo Bielsa has worked wonders with a team that finished in the bottom half last season with just a couple of additions and we like like a completely different team.

We’ve been playing a high pressing, fast-paced brand of football that has been great to watch and it looks at the moment like we can tear most teams apart. Despite missing a number of first team players, we looked very comfortable in our 3-0 win over Preston last time out but despite where Birmingham lie in the table this should be a very different challenge.

Looking more like a George Graham team from the 90’s, Birmingham will be much harder to break down and there will be a reliance on Samu Saiz to make the best of what little space he will have around the edge of the area. That being said, if Leeds get going early on I would back them to score a few.

We will most likely go unchanged from our last two games with no one appearing to be returning from injury.

Half Time Prediction:

Leeds United 1-0 Birmingham

Full Time Prediction:

Leeds United 3-0 Birmingham

Predicted Leeds Line-up:

(4-1-4-1) Peacock-Farrell; Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Douglas; Phillips; Harrison, Klich, Saiz, Alioski; Roberts

The Stats

Blues have won 4 of the last 8 matches at Elland Road, including two draws and two defeats.

Leeds have had a different manager in every single one of the last 13 league meetings at Elland Road between the two sides, dating back to Billy Bremner in the late 1980’s.

Blues have won just once away from home on a Saturday in the last 23 attempts, a 3-1 victory away to Sheffield Wednesday back in February.

Pre-match Quotes

Birmingham City manager Garry Monk on the positive squad mentality and the backing of the fans:

Of course, there’s that frustration but confidence and belief doesn’t get dented when you’re performing well as a team.

They’re defending very well. It’s only been a few individual mistakes that have hurt us defensively, but in terms of the organisation and overall, we’ve been very good defensively.

We were clapped off for the performance at Sheffield, and West Brom was the same. They can see how hard these players are trying to give them as many wins as possible and that there’s a really good way about us.

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa on his squad and the emergence of youngster Tyler Roberts:

This club has 15 players and five or six youngsters and if I had to make an evaluation of them, I would like to keep these players.  I wouldn’t want to change the players I have and very few teams can say what I am saying, I would like to keep them all.

When a number nine [Roberts] scores, it always gives him confidence, in both games he has played, he was a link to the opponents box.

He didn’t score against Millwall, but against Preston he scored twice, the important thing is he creates chances to score and as he scores more goals, he will become an important player.

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Jordan Marley is a current journalism student at The University of Salford; a long-suffering Blues fan who also writes for the Huffington Post and Quays News.

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