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Hartlepool vs Leeds. Focusing on the league.

So after finally bowing out of the FA Cup, its back to the league for Leeds United.

Hartlepool victoria Park

A bit of a come down after playing in front of 37,000 people at a rocking Elland Road in front of premiership opposition, its off to Victoria Park to face Hartlepool in front of about 8,000.

The one downside to the FA Cup run has been our league form.

A ten point lead at the top vanished and Norwich now sit proudly on top three points clear following their amazing run of form.

Leeds though still have two games in hand and are 4 points ahead of Charlton in third, again with two games in hand.

With the form Norwich are in, it's hard to see where their next defeat is coming from. Typically in any other season Leeds points tally of 60 points at this stage would have Leeds top by about ten points. Always happens to us, its bloody typical.

But the important thing is securing automatic promotion. Then go for the title. And with Charlton dropping more points again in midweek, it's a distinct possibility now.

So we start our fight to keep our top two spot tomorrow. And Hartlepool are no pushovers.

leeds hartlepool goal 3

On Boxing Day at Elland Road they took the lead against Leeds before finally succumbing to the superior home form of Whites going down 3-1.

A brace from Beckford and one for Becchio kept Leeds top, and it was at this point Norwich were 10 points behind us. How times have changed so quickly.

It was the one year anniversary of Simon Grayson's tenure and since then had guided Leeds to over a year unbeaten in the league at home.

A recorded which continued last saturday to end the dismal league run that Leeds had been on, when they sent former coach Aidy Boothroyd packing with a 2-1 win over Colchester United.

That match saw the debuts of Gary McSheffrey, Shane Lowry and the second debut of Max Gradel.

All three men missed the FA Cup match in midweek as all were ineligible, the plus side to this is we have two premiership class players and one young vibrant talent all rested and ready to go on saturday.

Something that has evaded us in the poor run. We played fantastically in the cup but then the players were knackered in the next league match and we didn't change the line up.

But with the calibre of loan and permanent signing we made in the last week of the transfer window, surely they must start against the Monkey hangers.

Grayson can't be justified in starting the same 11 against Hartlepool that he did against Spurs. Because if he had had McSheffrey, Lowry and Gradel all available, he would've used them. He always said he wants competition and give the chance to give some a rest, so use them.

Their opponents managed by Chris Turner currently sit in 17th place 6 points above the relegation zone.

andy monkhouse

Leading goalscorer for Hartlepool comes in the form of Leeds born left winger Andy Monkhouse. A pacy creative winger with an eye for goal, he has 8 goals to his name, a pretty decent contribution from a winger. If Bromby starts at right back, he's got a handful of a player to keep an eye on.

Former Leyton Orient striker Adam Boyd has 6 goals in the league in this season for his hometown club who he rejoined this summer.

It's been 5 games since the Monkey hangers last win on January 2nd against fellow relegation strugglers Oldham. They have also gone 9 games without keeping a clean sheet and suffered a 5-0 hammering at home against MK Dons three weeks ago.

But since then they have had tough opposition in Norwich last weekend as well as Charlton, both away from home.

But home is more where their heart is having lost their last 6 away games, they've won 2 drawn 2 and lost 2 at home in their last 6.

Again something that i've said time and time again, they use their small tight ground to their advantage to get as many points as they can and intimidate their oppostion...ok maybe it didn't work against MK Dons but it's worked at some point!

And with Leeds' recent poor away form losing their last 2 away league matches at Exeter and Swindon, Leeds may have something to fear at Victoria Park.

But with the home victory against Col U last week, getting another away win would be the resumption of the expected. Their away form was better than their home form earlier in the season, conceeding fewer goals than at home and gaining more wins.

This was down to the same doggedness which got them FA cup results away at Kettering, Man U and Spurs. Its the never say die attitude instilled in them and an organization which had Leeds fans in awe. Something unseen at Leeds for a while. And despite the recent away capitulation, there's no reason why it can't be the case again.

Hartlepool are never one to take lightly, they took the lead at Carrow road and pushed Charlton all the way at the Valley and took the lead, as I mentioned earlier, at Elland Road.

Leeds need to be on top of their game and show the same desire and will to win that they showed earlier in the season as well as in the cup, not the crumbling tired wrecks that showed up to the Exeter and Swindon games.