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Match preview: Leeds United v Middlesbrough

It's back to Elland Road this Saturday for the first home league game of the 2011-12 campaign as United entertain Middlesbrough. Boro registered a point on the first day of the season with a 2-2 draw against Portsmouth and will come to Elland Road expecting to get something after performing well here last season, only failing to win after Luciano Becchio hit a last minute equaliser.

Team News:

3 players heading back from international duty include Max Gradel, Darren O'Dea and Scotland goal scoring hero Robert Snodgrass. All 3 are likely to feature in the squad, however it remains to be seen whether Ramon Nunez's double in the mid-week win against Bradford was enough for him to keep his place in the side. It is also likely that there will be changes in the defence after two poor performances from Andy O'Brien saw him embarrassingly taken off against his former side Bradford. Leigh Bromby is the likely partner for Patrick Kisnorbo in the heart of United's defence. Luciano Becchio and Davide Somma are joined by Billy Paynter on the treatment table leaving the whites with Ross McCormack as their only fit striker for the must win game at Elland Road.

Boro are missing Kevin Thompson following an injury he sustained to his ankle at the start of pre-season. The only other missing member of the Boro squad through injury is Merouane Zemmama.

One to watch:

Marvin Emnes' Boro career was seemingly over when he was loaned to Swansea City last season. However, the young Dutchman returned to the Riverside and quietly went about his business, establishing himself at the club under new boss Tony Mowbray in the process. In order to get their first win of the season, the Leeds defence will have to keep Emnes under control.

My Prediction:

If Leeds play anything like they have in the past week against Southampton and Bradford then this could be another nasty 90 minutes for the fans. With hard games coming thick and fast, it is a must that United register at least 4 points from the two home games coming up over the next few days with Hull also coming up on Tuesday night. It's hard to say which way tomorrow will go, Leeds could either produce a response the past weeks poor showings. For example, if we snatch an early goal, the team could settle down and go on to a comfortable victory. On the other hand, the terrible displays we have seen in the opening two games could continue.

Only time will tell.

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