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Sunday, 5th August 2018 Kick-off 16:30
Match Preview: Leeds United v Birmingham City
Tuesday, 12th Sep 2017 16:40 by @LucasMonk_
Following their facile, and comprehensive, 5-0 defeat of Burton Albion at Elland Road on Saturday, Leeds United (2nd) play host to Birmingham City (21st) tonight with Thomas Christiansen’s charges seeking to prolong further their imperious undefeated sequence of results.
On Saturday, Leeds United produced their most self-assured and infallible performance under head coach Thomas Christiansen to date. Amidst the backdrop of the febrile ambience generated by in excess of 30,000 expectant supporters, United carved their hapless opponents asunder with enviable ease, elan and elegance. Samu Sáiz, Pablo Hernández, Kemar Roofe and Pierre-Michel Lasogga were all inimical thorns in the side of the opposition throughout the fixture’s entirety. Goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald had not a single save elicited from him, with Leeds not permitting their opponents even a solitary effort on target. For 90 minutes, Leeds United enjoyed an infrangible hegemony and, though it was a match they were most certainly anticipated to be victorious in, the way in which Leeds vanquished their opponents was symptomatic of a team capable of mounting a siege upon the division’s loftiest reaches. The superlative performance and consequent 5-0 triumph not only saw Lasogga mark his inaugural appearance in a United shirt with two goals that were taken in consummate style; the result elevated Leeds to second place in the Championship table, and the Whites have not been inured to defeat under the judicious management of Thomas Christiansen.
Supporters of tonight’s opponents, Birmingham City, can only begrudge United their wondrous start. Though the deluge of players acquired on deadline day provide just cause for some optimism among fans of the Blues, the club, presently managed by Harry Redknapp, have endured a torrid start to the season having won just one in their opening six matches. Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of Norwich City at Carrow Road was Birmingham’s fourth successive loss in league competition, and the side have scored a derisory total of three goals thus far this season. The former Brentford triumvirate of Jota, Maxime Colin and Harlee Dean will doubtless come to make an impactful difference at St Andrews before long, though it should be noted that they will require sufficient time in which to assimilate into City’s first-team squad.
With United in flourishing fettle and Birmingham in abominable form of late, the hosts are, rightly, the favourites of many observers to record a fifth league victory of the season - if they are to do so, they may rise to the pinnacle of the table depending on results elsewhere.
After a superlative display of goal-scoring proficiency - scoring twice - on his maiden appearance for the club following his arrival from Hamburger SV on transfer deadline day, German forward Pierre-Michel Lasogga is in the Leeds United squad for tonight’s match but the 25-year-old may not feature as his partner is due to give birth.
Defender Matthew Pennington, who is on loan at Elland Road from Premier League club Everton until the season’s end, has recently resumed first-team training following an ankle injury, though the player is most likely to be omitted from the matchday squad.
Striker Caleb Ekuban will not appear for the Whites again until November, by which time he should have recuperated following a broken foot.
Fleet-footed winger Ezgjan Alioski was named among United’s substitutes on Saturday afternoon - with head coach Thomas Christiansen electing to rest the player - following his participation in the Macedonian national team’s recent international fixtures. Alioski is in contention for a starting berth, but Christiansen is not anticipated to make very many alterations to his starting eleven.
Harlee Dean, Maxime Colin, Jota, Jason Lowe, Jeremie Boga and Liam Walsh all had Birmingham City debuts bestowed upon them by Blues manager Harry Redknapp as Birmingham were narrowly defeated by Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday - all six are also in contention for starting berths tonight.
Doubt has been cast on the availability of left-back Cheick Keita, while midfielder Cheikh N’Doye is unlikely to start the match having only recently returned from injury.
Forward Che Adams, who signed a lucrative five-year contract only days ago, could partner Southampton loanee Sam Gallagher in attack.
United were last victorious against City at Elland Road in October 2013. Birmingham, who were then managed by the present Bury manager Lee Clark, performed egregiously and were thus put to the sword by a rampant Leeds, who resoundingly won the match 4-0 courtesy of goals from Ross McCormack, Rodolph Austin and Matt Smith (2). Since that day, Birmingham have drawn once (1-1) and won twice (2-0, 2-1) in their last three visits to West Yorkshire.
Leeds have not suffered defeat in a home fixture on a Tuesday night since September 2015, when a solitary Tommy Smith header saw Ipswich Town leave Elland Road as 1-0 victors.
Birmingham have lost their last three league matches; if they are to lose a fourth tonight, the club will have recorded their worst losing streak since April 2014.
Venue: Elland Road (37, 890).
Coverage: BBC Radio Leeds.
Referee: The designated referee for this match is Peter Bankes, who most recently officiated Barnsley’s 1-1 draw with Preston on Saturday.
Leeds United: Kemar Roofe
The achievements of Walsall-born attacker in the present campaign, who was formerly a talismanic figure in the colours of Oxford United following his release by West Bromwich Albion, have already transcended those of the last. Roofe, 24, has surpassed the number of goals he scored in his inaugural season at Elland Road (four) having scored five goals thus far this campaign, with his most stellar performance under Thomas Christiansen having arisen against Newport County in the second round of the EFL Cup - Roofe scored a superlative hat-trick in that match, his first for Leeds. Following the departure of Chris Wood, the player has been deployed as a lone forward to devastating effect and, if Pierre-Michel Lasogga is to be absent for tonight’s match, Roofe will likely assume responsibility for spearheading United’s vanguard.
Birmingham City: Jota
A dexterous winger of 26 years and a product of the distinguished Celta de Vigo academy, Jota first rose to prominence in the 2013-14 season as one of the most salient first-team players at fan-owned SD Eibar in Spain’s Segunda División. While on loan with Los Armeros, Jota netted 11 goals as the modest Basque side secured a historic promotion to La Liga. Since then, he has made appreciable contributions toward the cause of Brentford in the Championship between 2015 and August of this year, scoring 23 goals in 72 appearances during his time at Griffin Park. His scintillating form for the Bees prompted Birmingham City to pay a reputed £6,000,000 for the player’s signature on transfer deadline day. With the Blues enduring a barren run of late, Jota is possessed of the necessary ability to aid them in their quest to compete for the play-offs after a far from sprightly start to the season.
Following the comprehensive defeat of Burton Albion on Saturday, the expectations of Leeds United supporters have, ostensibly, reached a new zenith.
When the club's sprightly start to the present campaign is considered, in addition to the egregious form of Birmingham City ahead of this match, it is clearly intelligible as to why supporters are relishing the visit of the Blues.
As had been the case on Saturday, this is a match that many observers deem to be one from which Leeds should emerge victorious - and I believe they will.
Prediction: Leeds United 2-0 Birmingham City
Photo: Action Images
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