Leeds. It's a place I go to with mixed emotions. They are a club I have no fondness for whatsoever but every time this fixture comes up I can't help but recall that 4-1 win there in 1974.
|Junior Stanislas could return this afternoon|
That was in the days of Don Revie who is probably the main reason for my dislike of that club although the sight of Ken Bates and his outrageous admission prices hardly help.
We've won just once at Elland Road since that brilliant win, an against the odds victory in 2004 when two full backs playing out of position, Lee Roche and Richard Duffy, scored the goals. Not as though we have any more success against them at home having won just twice in that period.
One thing for certain is that we go there today with some confidence having won our last three games without conceding a goal. We had a run of three league games without conceding early last season although two of those games were draws. The last time we won three successive league games without conceding a goal was in April 2007 when we recorded victories against Plymouth, Birmingham and Cardiff.
The holiday periods are always a difficult time to preview a game. With having played only two days earlier and had the New Year celebrations there is always a lack of information regarding injuries etc.
We know that Michael Duff will be out again. Eddie Howe confirmed after Saturday's win that he was never in the running and he won't be in the squad today either. The manager also said he would rotate his squad. On Saturday, apart from the enforced change with Duff's absence, there was just one change with Keith Treacy replacing Junior Stanislas, but there could be more today and I certainly think Marvin Bartley will return alongside both Dean Marney and Chris McCann in the midfield.
The one thing for sure is that, unless there are further injuries, the back four will be the same as it was. Ben Mee was floored at one point but he's OK apart from a nose bleed. Up front, we could utilise Sam Vokes and Charlie Austin. Neither have started any of the three recent away wins but with Martin Paterson almost running on empty at the end of the Hull game there could be a place.
Burnley will select from: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, David Edgar, Ben Mee, Brian Easton, Ross Wallace, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Keith Treacy, Martin Paterson, Jay Rodriguez, Marvin Bartley, Junior Stanislas, Sam Vokes, Charlie Austin, Andre Amougou and Jon Stewart.
Our Opponents - Leeds United
If we travel with confidence then it could be said the opposite applies with Leeds who have now lost their last three league games and apparently turned in a horror show at Barnsley two days ago, going down to a 4-1 defeat.
Former Leeds star Eddie Gray said about that: "We made Craig Davies look like Ronaldo, while Vaz Te just ran riot."
Gray has been critical of the season as a whole. He referred to the game at Turf Moor as one where they got out of jail and admitted that only two performances have been good enough this season and added: "You don't keep getting out of jail, like at Burnley."
Manager Simon Grayson is under pressure. Ken Bates has said that he has to get them into the Premier League this season and the manager blasted his team after the Barnsley debacle and threatened to make wholesale changes.
He said he had to take responsibility for the performance and after the game said: “I want to get to the Premier League with this club and if one or two players are too comfortable and just earning their money then they’ve got another think coming.
“When you play for Leeds United, you’ve got to earn the right to play for the club and you’ve got to give your all from the start of every game to the final whistle. The players who contributed to this game didn’t do any of that and that’s embarrassing for me as manager and for our supporters.
“It’s not acceptable and a lot of things are going to have to happen now. Too many players went into their shell after the second goal and there was a lack of responsibility shown.
“Any footballer can have a poor day at the office in terms of passing and giving the ball away but it doesn’t stop you running around, unless someone chops your legs off.”
He said he'd bring in some of the youngsters and confirmed that he'd be bringing in some new players during this window. One new player, Andros Townsend, has already arrived in a loan deal from Tottenham.
Grayson added: "I’m not going to shy away from the fact that these are my players and I brought them to the club but every one of these players should be embarrassed about this, look in the mirror and make sure they do something about it.
“Look at Barnsley – no disrespect to them but a lot of their players have played in League One and League Two. They’ve put us to the sword because they’ve shown desire and application for their club and their shirt. Too many of our players didn’t."
It will be interesting to see how they do line up. It obviously isn't going to be the same team that started at Barnsley and Townsend will come in for a debut. The only other thing we know with some certainty is that injury keeps out Jonny Howson whilst Robert Snodgrass is also ruled out having had his appendix removed last week.
The Leeds team at Barnsley was: Andy Lonergan, Paul Connolly, Patrick Kisnorbo, Darren O'Dea, Aidan White, Ramon Nunez, Mika Vayrynen, Michael Brown, Danny Pugh, Ross McCormack, Andy Keogh. Subs: Alex McCarthy, Alex Bruce, Lloyd Sam, Adam Clayton, Luciano Becchio.
Last Time We Were There
We will be hoping that we turn in a better performance at Leeds than we did on our last visit in April. It was the last away game of the season and we still had an outside chance of making the play offs.
|Brian Jensen kept us in the game last season|
Unfortunately we turned in a shocker of a performance and could have absolutely no complaints at coming home with a defeat although we did have the most blatant of penalties refused us with the score at 0-0.
Incredibly, with a perfect view, referee Phil Crossley watched Andy O'Brien climb all over Chris Iwelumo and drag him to the floor. I still can't believe he waved play on but he did and Michael Duff got in a shot that Kasper Schmeichel saved with his face.
Not long after Michael Duff and Andre Bikey were caught out and allowed Ross McCormack a clear run at goal. He was one-on-one with Brian Jensen and made no mistake for what was his first goal for Leeds.
From that moment on we were beaten and in truth would have lost more heavily but for Jensen's performance in goal. He made a string of saves and although most were routine he did make two outstanding saves to keep us in the game.
Things could have been even worse. Jay Rodriguez could quite easily have seen red and I still believe both Chris McCann and Neil Kilkenny should have been sent off in an incident in the second half. McCann was high in the challenge and Kilkenny reacted but the incompetent Crossley, for whom it was a last ever game, just added them to his collection of eight yellow cards on the day.
Both teams had gone into the game with an outside chance of making the play offs. Neither did and on that showing neither deserved to, but Leeds were far better than us on the day.
The teams were;
Leeds: Kasper Schmeichel, Eric Lichaj, Andy O'Brien, Richard Naylor, George McCartney, Max Gradel (Sanchez Watt 89), Neil Kilkenny, Jonny Howson, Bradley Johnson, Billy Paynter (Robert Snodgrass 76), Ross McCormack (Leigh Bromby 90+3). Subs not used: Shane Higgs, Paul Connolly, Alex Bruce, Jake Livermore.
Burnley: Brian Jensen, Tyrone Mears, Michael Duff (Ross Wallace 74), Andre Bikey, Danny Fox, Jack Cork, Chris McCann (Nathan Delfouneso 63), Wade Elliott, Chris Eagles, Jay Rodriguez, Chris Iwelumo (Steven Thompson 78). Subs not used: Lee Grant, Clarke Carlisle, Graham Alexander, Marvin Bartley.
Previous Games against Leeds United
|Last 20 Years|
Click HERE to see all previous results against Leeds United