|Leeds United 1 v 4 Cardiff City|
Saturday, 3rd February 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Match Preview: Leeds United v Cardiff City - Can Whites clip the Bluebirds' wings?
Saturday, 3rd Feb 2018 09:43 by @LucasMonk_
Following their dour duel against Hull City on Tuesday night, Leeds United (10th) today play host to promotion aspirants Cardiff City (4th) with Thomas Christiansen and his charges seeking to avenge United’s 3-1 defeat by the Bluebirds in September.
On Tuesday, Leeds United’s failure to inflict defeat upon a forlorn Hull City team deeply infuriated their supporters. By labouring to a goalless draw, United, who did not register even a single shot on target against the toothless Tigers, missed a gilt-edged opportunity to narrow the aperture between themselves and 6th-placed Fulham, who presently appear to be impregnable. For United supporters, the one redeeming quality of what was an excruciatingly poor match contested on an excruciatingly poor pitch was the excellent performance of Adam Forshaw. A cultured midfielder who joined Leeds from divisional rivals Middlesbrough for a reputed £4,500,000, Forshaw, 26, was plausibly United’s most stellar performer on the day; his facility for metronomic passing was plain for all to see and his equanimity in possession will prove invaluable to Leeds.
If United are to record a momentous triumph today, they will require equanimity - an attribute they have lacked for much of the season - in plenitude. This afternoon’s visitors, Cardiff City, are infinitely more formidable opponents than those Leeds have faced thus far this year. Managed by the wily Neil Warnock, a winner of eight Football League promotions throughout his managerial career, the Bluebirds have confounded all expectation and are firmly in contention for promotion to the Premier League owing to Warnock’s commendable shrewdness in the transfer market. An unabashedly direct side, Cardiff place a strict emphasis on getting the ball forward briskly, often depending on the powerful Danish striker Kenneth Zohore to function as a focal point. City’s aerial prowess in the final third has also been recently strengthened by the arrival of Gary Madine from Bolton Wanderers on deadline day and although the reputed transfer fee of £6,000,000 has served to bemuse many observers, the capture of the forward made plain the Welsh club’s ambition.
Leeds, riven by injuries and suspensions, will have to somehow countervail Cardiff’s highly efficacious style of play if they are to secure a first victory of the year at Elland Road today. Thomas Christiansen’s team must display more aggression and fortitude in contrast to the painful pusillanimity they have exuded in recent fixtures, else a repeat of City’s 3-1 triumph in September could well arise.
Leeds continue to be beset by a deluge of suspensions and injuries. Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips, Eunan O’Kane and Samuel Sáiz remain sidelined owing to suspension, whilst Luke Ayling, Conor Shaughnessy and Caleb Ekuban will not feature due to injury.
Furthermore, 19-year-old Tyler Roberts, a fledgling striker captured from West Bromwich Albion on deadline day, will not make his debut for United today as he is ailed by a knock.
Finally, Thomas Christiansen is expected to retain his preferential 4-2-3-1 formation, with Pierre-Michel Lasogga as a lone forward.
There remain a smattering of issues for Neil Warnock to consider ahead of this match.
Winger Kadeem Harris and midfielder Aron Gunnarsson are injured, whilst defender Joe Bennett is suspended after receiving a red card during the Bluebirds’ 2-0 defeat by Manchester City in the FA Cup.
Yanic Wildschut, a fleet-footed winger on loan from Norwich City, and Sol Bamba, a former United defender, could both be recalled to the starting lineup, whilst Neil Warnock may also afford Gary Madine an inaugural outing in a Cardiff shirt.
Venue: Elland Road (capacity of 37,890).
Coverage: As ever, those unable to attend will have recourse to live match commentary on the part of BBC Radio Leeds; the station’s bespoke United coverage commences at two o’clock this afternoon.
Referee: Graham Scott.
At the juncture of writing, United’s top goalscorer is Kemar Roofe, who has scored 11 goals in all competitions this season.
In home matches this season, Leeds have registered 3.9 shots on target per game - only Reading, Bolton Wanderers, Burton Albion and Birmingham City have registered fewer.
United have won only one of their last ten matches at home to Cardiff City; in November 2015, a howitzer from Alex Mowatt proved decisive as Leeds defeated the Bluebirds 1-0.
Leeds have failed to win in any of their last five Championship matches.
Presently, Cardiff City’s top goalscorer is Joe Ralls, who has scored seven goals in all competitions this season.
This season, Cardiff have recorded the lowest average pass completion in the division (61.4%), but have also had the third-highest number of shots per game (13.8).
Cardiff last won an away match in November, when they defeated Nottingham Forest 2-0 at the City Ground.
The Bluebirds have won only one of their last five Championship matches.
This match sees United, cruelly decimated by pernicious injuries and suspensions brought about by rampant idiocy, pitted against a powerful team in Cardiff City.
Managed by Neil Warnock, the Bluebirds presently occupy fourth place in the table and they could supersede Derby County to end the day in the automatic promotion places if results elsewhere favour them.
Leeds will have to be wary of the aerial threat posed by City, who have won the third-highest number of aerial duels per game in the division this season.
Both sides have been exceedingly slipshod of late, and this eagerly anticipated match may well fizzle out into an especially forgettable draw.
Prediction: Leeds United 1-1 Cardiff City
Photo: Action Images
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