|Leeds United 1 v 1 Nottingham Forest|
Saturday, 27th October 2018 Kick-off 17:30
Match Preview: Leeds United v Nottm Forest - Tricky Trees won't be felled with ease
Saturday, 27th Oct 2018 14:06 by @LucasMonk_
Leeds United are targeting back-to-back victories for the first time since August as Nottingham Forest visit Elland Road this evening (17:30 GMT).
Leeds United’s defeat to Blackburn Rovers last weekend was the mother of much nonsense. It meant Marcelo Bielsa’s team had won just once in their previous five matches, and that specious pundits began to scuttle and give oblique nods to the catastrophe of last season. The visit of bottom side Ipswich Town was, therefore, a potential banana skin in every sense of the term, and those pundits, ravening vultures, would circle and devour in the event of a nasty fall.
Fortunately, United were able to overcome what was a feeble opponent. Ipswich seem to be football’s answer to Winston Smith. Struggling to make sense of the harsh world around them (that you have to spend money to compete). Trying to resist it (spending very little money on rubbish players). Enduring its many difficult contentions (losing most weeks) but in vain. They now sit in Room 101, and a different set of menacing rats wearing different colours terrorises them each and every week.
Without doubt, Leeds, buoyed by the return of Pablo Hernandez, played some excellent stuff. From one flank to the other, searching, arching passes. From the back, judicious and intricate attacks. Off the ball, hunting in packs. It was a rather more accomplished showing than the one they had produced a few days prior.
But it was so very facile. Like winning a boxing match against somebody with a broken arm. Or beating up that etiolated ginger kid who wears glasses and trades Pokemon cards in the playground. A hollow triumph. Not a great deal of which to proud. Ipswich made plain their hopelessness with several stray passess and an impotence in attack throughout the game.
Yet it was nonetheless a victory as every bit important as the decimations of Derby, Stoke and Norwich, all rather more esteemed opponents. Those of us possessed with even a modicum of sensibility will know that United will not get very far by being flat-track bullies, but will also acknowledge the importance of boosting morale, winning matches and keeping a hostile press off their backs.
Now the collective focus shifts to today’s visit of Nottingham Forest. If one can peer through the impenetrable, confused haze consisting of hackneyed arguments about the miners’ strike and whether or not Arthur Scargill was a froward bolshie buffoon (he was), they will make out the outline of a much tougher opponent. For starters, they have strikers who can muster efforts on target and defenders who do not try to catch butterflies as crosses fly into their box as the staggeringly useless Matthew Pennington does. With a good, experienced English core coupled with a sprinkling of foreign flair, United must be regardful of the threat Forest pose.
Aitor Karanka’s teams also seem to bear some sort of refined footballing evil. They are calculated and conservative and have an innate hostility to attractive football of any kind. All this elicits a profound revulsion from many of their rivals. They are the antithesis of Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds in a plethora of ways and there can be no doubt that they will keep affairs tight at the back and attempt to extract through parasitical means a good result.
For United, then, patience must be a priority. Pass. Probe. And damn well take your chances when they arise, because there is no guarantee of any more falling your way.
Leeds again have recourse to the services of Pontus Jansson, who served his ludicrous one-match suspension by missing out on Wednesday night’s defeat of Ipswich Town. However, Barry Douglas remains unavailable with a hamstring injury. Furthermore, Patrick Bamford is unable to face his former club as he is still recovering from a severe knee injury.
Forest are without former United wide player Sam Byram and defensive midfielders Claudio Yacob and Panagiotis Tachtsidis. Forward Lewis Grabban’s improved form of late should ensure that Algerian Hilal Soudani remains on the bench.
Recent League Form:
Nottm Forest: DDWLW
One to Watch: Pablo Hernandez, Leeds
The Spaniard returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday to devastating effect as he assisted both of United’s goals. He has acuity, technical brilliance and a penchant for the exceedingly good. Mazy dribbles and pinpoint passes are key elements of his repertoire. A key pass, a key cross, a key dribble, a key shot. He is capable of all. Players who can produce from nothing that crucial, match-winning piece of panache are worth their weight in gold; there can be no exaggeration of his importance to this team.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Eltringham has officiated no fewer than nine Championship matches this season, showing 25 yellow cards and one red. He oversaw United’s 3-0 defeat of Preston at Elland Road last month.
Writer’s Prediction: Leeds United 1-0 Nottingham Forest
This appears to have all the makings of a tricky match. Forest may well have had an underwhelming start, but have improved a great deal in recent weeks. They have lost just once in their last five matches. Their ruthless 3-0 defeat of Bolton Wanderers made clear their prowess. Joe Lolley and Joao Carvalho can terrorise the most seasoned full-backs. Daryl Murphy has the strength and intellect to bring others into play and make the most of aimless punts forward. Jack Colback and Adlene Guedioura are an industrious pair whose functional yet efficient work complements well the flair of those ahead of them.
But Leeds possess the necessary quality to win. To mark Kemar Roofe into silence seems an almost Sisyphean task. Pablo Hernandez could probably find the Roman Ninth Legion, such is his vision. Liam Cooper has gone from meek, lower-league misfit to dependable, commanding captain. There is then the elegance and elan of Mateusz Klich, the tenacity of Kalvin Phillips, the infrangible spirit of Luke Ayling and the sheer passion of Pontus Jansson. United’s first eleven must surely be considered one of the strongest in the division.
It will be a close match. Competitive. Scrappy. Chances will be at a premium. One has to feel that the first goal will be crucial and may very well decide the match.
If Leeds play as all know they can, they should win. They cannot afford a slipshod showing. Forest are a good team. A victory would be a good result. But a victory more often than not requires a good performance. They have been in short supply of late.
Photo: Action Images
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