The Whites entertain Barnsley at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon as they return to home territory for the first time since the horror show against Blackpool at the start of the month. Simon Grayson's men have recorded back to back victories since then though, having put both Leicester and Burnley to the sword with fine away victories.
United haven't lost to Barnsley at home since the 1989/90 campaign, the year in which Leeds won the old Division Two title. However, things haven't exactly been rosy in this fixture in recent times for Leeds and they haven't beaten their Yorkshire rivals since 2001 when Mark Viduka's goal was good enough to put Leeds into the fourth round of the F.A. Cup. Last season saw United hammered 5-2 at Oakwell despite taking an early lead through Jonny Howson, a game that was epitomised by Neill Collins putting the ball into his own net. The Whites will be keen to put things right this weekend by getting their third win on the bounce and their first in front of their own supporters since the 1st October.
Leeds United will be without defender Darren O'Dea for the visit of Barnsley, the Republic of Ireland International picked up his fifth booking of the season at Turf Moor last week so he misses out through suspension. With the departure of Alex Bruce on loan to Huddersfield and Andy O'Brien's refusal to play for the club again, Tom Lees is likely to be the one who benefits from O'Dea's reckless challenge last week and partner Patrick Kisnorbo at the heart of United's defence.
Meanwhile Danny Pugh could be back in contention for the Whites after missing last weeks win because of a hamstring strain. Lloyd Sam deputised well for United on the left hand side of midfield and helped the cause by assisting Robert Snodgrass for the equaliser and now Grayson must decide whether to stick with Sam or recall Pugh to the starting line up. Grayson is also likely to include new signing Maik Taylor on his substitutes bench, the veteran goalkeeper will take the place of youngster Alex Cairns. Whilst O'Dea is the only neccesary change to the side, United manager Simon Grayson may decide to tinker with his frontline. The partnership of Keogh and McCormack has failed to muster a goal since the Peterborough game over a month ago and it may be that the frustrated Luciano Becchio gets a chance from the start.
Barnsley are likely to hand a debut to Nile Ranger, the striker on loan from Newcastle will be aiming to be in the headlines for the right reasons for a change. Meanwhile fellow striker Andy Gray and midfielder Danny Drinkwater are available for selection again after suspension. Goran Lovre and Reuben Noble-Lazarus are also nearing a return for Barnsley who will come to Elland Road in good spirits after seeing off Doncaster last week in a 2-0 victory.
One To Watch:
Jacob Butterfield is a product of the Barnsley academy who has broken into the first team and really made his place in the midfield his own. Butterfield broke into the Barnsley team in 2007 and after 3 seasons on the fringe of the team, he really came into his own during the 2010/11 campaign. Now a regular starter, the tykes number 19 currently leads the clubs goalscoring charts with 4 goals and will be looking to add to that tally at Elland Road this weekend. Looking to get on the end of Butterfield's creative instinct and 'killer pass' will be former Leeds front man Andy Gray. The son of Frank Gray and Nephew of Eddie will be up for getting one over on his former side and United need to prevent Butterfield from supplying the Barnsley attack with opportunities if they are to outscore their Yorkshire rivals.
My heart is saying that this should be easy game for Leeds but my head is telling me that it definately will not be. We couldn't get the better of them on two occasions last campaign and I'm sure that the Barnsley squad will be just as up for our games this time around. I think it's going to be a tight affair, our last two games have produced brilliant results but the performances haven't quite been there. It would be great to see the lads turn in a fantastic performance and come away with the three points but I don't think we will get the performance again. I think it will be another jittery game in which we come out on top in, 1-0 to the Whites.
Last Six Meetings:
23rd February 2011 - Leeds United 3-3 Barnsley
15th September 2010 - Barnsley 5-2 Leeds United
2nd December 2006 - Leeds United 2-2 Barnsley
4th November 2006 - Barnsley 2-3 Leeds United
6th January 2001 - Leeds United 1-0 Barnsley
4th April 1998 - Leeds United 2-1 Barnsley