Match Preview: Hull City v Leeds United - Toothless Tigers face woeful Whites in Yorkshire derby
Tuesday, 30th Jan 2018 17:25 by @LucasMonk_
Following their cruel 4-3 defeat by Millwall in a thoroughly frenetic contest at Elland Road last fixture, Leeds United tonight do battle with Yorkshire rivals Hull City at the KCOM Stadium, with Thomas Christiansen and his charges seeking to claim a first victory since Boxing Day in order to remain in contention for a play-off berth.
For Leeds United and their steadfastly loyal supporters, this month has been fraught with melancholy; it has been disconcertingly marred by ill-disciplined and slipshod performances on the field and an ostensible dearth of aspiration off it. United’s last three matches have produced three perturbing defeats, with the resulting anguish intensified by the red cards shown to Samuel Sáiz, Eunan O’Kane and Liam Cooper for individual indiscretions. The capture of Adam Forshaw, who is a distinguished 26-year-old midfielder with ample experience of the division and who could make his debut tonight, from Middlesbrough for a reputed £4,500,000 appears to be a mere palliative. Of late, Leeds have had a frightful propensity to appear either mentally fragile or lamentably languid. Forshaw’s arrival should ameliorate their present predicament somewhat, but it could be well argued that, on the basis of recent performances, the squad at Elland Road requires further additions if United are to remain competitive this season.
Tonight’s match is the team's last of the month. It pits a forlorn Leeds (9th) against the toothless tigers of Hull City (21st) - neither team have won a game since the turn of the year. There is a patently clear necessity for Thomas Christiansen and his players to work hard, remain disciplined and secure three points against the Tigers in order to preclude their fellow play-off aspirants from pulling away from them in the Championship table. Indeed, United are the favourites, but Nigel Adkins’ Hull are desperately fighting, tooth and claw, to gain crucial points in their bid to stave off what would be a calamitous relegation to League One for the first time since 1996. The match will thus not be a facile one and defeat is a luxury Leeds cannot afford, as they would cede vital ground to a rampant Fulham team, among others, if the Tigers were to emerge from this encounter as victors. A Hull victory should not be discountenanced; Leeds may have been 1-0 winners when the Tigers visited Elland Road last month, but Hull frequently threatened to upset the odds, particularly in the first period, and were, peradventure, unfortunate to lose.
Both teams, irrespective of their recent woes, possess players capable of winning the match for them by way of an impactful contribution. Hull will look to their top goalscorer, Jarrod Bowen, whilst Leeds will depend greatly on Pierre-Michel Lasogga - who scored twice against Millwall in his last match - to pose to the hosts a potent attacking threat.
No new injury concerns have arisen for Nigel Adkins to consider, though striker Abel Hernández (Achilles), midfielder Ryan Mason (fractured skull) and defender Stephen Kingsley (groin) remain sidelined.
Moreover, although Czech defender Ondřej Mazuch returned to first-team action at the weekend against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, it is highly probable that Adkins will revert to the defence he selected against Sunderland in the Tigers’ last league match.
Finally, Adkins could elect to afford Polish winger Pawel Grosicki a first start since Boxing Day after utilising the former Rennes player as a substitute at the weekend, with City likely to be deployed in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The Leeds United squad is presently riven by a wretched blend of injuries and suspensions.
When selecting his 18-man squad for tonight’s match, United head coach Thomas Christiansen shall have to omit four first-team players owing to suspension; the absence of Samuel Sáiz, Eunan O’Kane, Kalvin Phillips and club captain Liam Cooper may well be sorely felt.
Furthermore, Luke Ayling will not be available for the remainder of the season after his sustaining of an ankle injury against Nottingham Forest earlier in the month, whilst Caleb Ekuban continues his recovery from a foot injury.
Finally, Pierre-Michel Lasogga is once more expected to spearhead the Leeds vanguard as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 disposition, as United pursue a first win of the year.
Venue: KCOM Stadium (capacity of 25,586).
Coverage: As ever, supporters who are unable to attend the match will have recourse to live match commentary on the part of BBC Radio Leeds.
Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland), who last officiated a United match in April 2017 when Leeds drew 3-3 at home to Norwich City.
Hull (30) have scored more home league goals this season than any other Championship team.
Only Reading (2) have obtained fewer points than the Tigers (3) from their last six matches.
Hull have failed to secure victory in any of their last seven Championship matches.
Only league leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers (10) have won more away matches in the Championship this season than Leeds (7).
Leeds have failed to win in any of their last five matches in all competitions.
United have been shown a total of five red cards this season; more than any of their divisional rivals.
Following a doleful defeat to Millwall in their last outing, Leeds United, on the premise of history as well as recent performances, could well suffer further anguish at the KCOM Stadium tonight. United’s last win away to Hull came in January 2007 - 11 years ago.
Excursions to Hull are seldom fruitful for Leeds, and I cannot envisage tonight’s being an anomaly. Though the Tigers have failed to score in their last six matches, they have been prolific scorers at home this season and United’s porous showing against Millwall inculcates in me not a scintilla of confidence.
With Leeds divested of the creative faculty of Samuel Sáiz - and the experience of Eunan O’Kane and club captain Liam Cooper - through suspension, for them to emerge from this match appears a difficult, though not insurmountable, task. This is a fixture that requires focus, discipline and hard work; all qualities United have sorely lacked in recent matches. Pablo Hernández, Adam Forshaw and Matthew Pennington must deliver for Leeds tonight if they are to gain anything from what will doubtless be a tough match.
Prediction: Hull City 2-1 Leeds United
Photo: Action Images
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