Often Partisan

A Blue Day for Grayson? – Leeds United Preview

Another day, another trip up the M1 – this time to face Leeds United in the Championship. This will be the 39th game of the campaign for Chris Hughton’s boys, and the question will be if they can keep their fine recent form up against a Leeds side unbeaten in three.

Leeds United

Unlike Blues, Leeds have had a free weekend (after falling in the FA Cup 3rd round to Thierry Henry and Arsenal at the Emirates), and thus come into this fixture having not played in nine days. Form-wise, they are unbeaten in three, with seven points in total from their last six games. However, their last three results were all against teams which were reduced to 10 men – the 3-1 win over Ipswich was thanks to three late goals after the Ipswich keeper was sent off and the 2-1 win over Burnley was only thanks to a 97th minute winner from McCormack.

From reading their fansites, Leeds aren’t too hopeful in this game – maybe our form has scared them a little. Leeds are another team in turmoil; some fans are boycotting games in protest at the extortionately high prices to watch their team and the lack of investment in their team from owner Ken Bates. Whilst Simon Grayson is Leeds through and through his tenure is insecure over perceived defensive failings, and some fans are openly calling for Grayson to get his p45 should Blues turn Leeds over.

Leeds have two former Blues in their ranks in Maik Taylor and Mikael Forssell – although I’d expect both to start on the bench tonight. Fabian Delph may be put straight into the team for his first start since his return to the club on loan from the Villa, and highly rated Spurs loanee winger Andros Townsend is expected to keep his place.

Birmingham City

Birmingham City lead the Championship form table with fourteen points from their last six league games; they are unbeaten in nine in all competitions, have won five on the bounce, and haven’t conceded a goal in all competitions in 432 minutes. Indeed, in away games in all competitions it’s been just a minute shy of six hours since Blues last conceded, and in that period they’ve scored twelve times.

Stephen Carr is fit for this one and should travel, as should want-away defender Liam Ridgewell but Marlon King is a doubt and Guirane N’Daw won’t be back in time for this one. There is no guarantee Carr will be reinstated straight back into the lineup given how Spector has played, and with Rooney in a hot streak of form up front I’d expect he may well keep his place.

Despite what the Leeds fans say, I think this is a tough game for Blues – no matter what form the team is in. Leeds have the best second half performance record in the division, and thus Blues need to be on their game for the whole ninety minutes. Tired legs may be a factor and I expect Hughton may have to make one or two changes to keep the squad fresh although there will be no new signings to bolster the team prior to the game. All that being said, I think we should pick up a point at least which wouldn’t be a bad result.

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