Leeds face their bitterest rivals Manchester United at Elland Road on Tuesday night as attentions once again turn to the Carling Cup. United go in to this third round encounter looking for their third win in a row at home following recent victories against Crystal Palace and Bristol City. The Whites came out on top last time out when a Jermaine Beckford goal at the Stretford end gave Leeds a sensational victory at Old Trafford, however in four previous League Cup meetings, the Red Devils have come out on top every time.
Simon Grayson is without Patrick Kisnorbo following the Australian's sending off for hauling down Bristol City front man Nicky Maynard on Saturday. Leigh Bromby could come in to replace him in the heart of United's defence, Alex Bruce is another option, however, the former Ipswich defender is yet to make an appearance this season for the West Yorkshire club.
Although Kisnorbo is the only change that is being forced upon Grayson, he is still keeping his cards close to his chest after revealing to the clubs official website that he will be leaving his team selection until late. Grayson said, "All the players are desperate to play as you would expect, but I'd be lying if I said team selection won't be made without having an eye on our game at Brighton on Friday", with that in mind the likes of Adam Clayton could be rested for the Friday night clash away to Brighton after only just returning from injury. Mika Vayrynen could make his first appearance following his arrival on a free transfer last week.
Another decision that Grayson must make is who to partner in form Ross McCormack. Mikael Forssell, Luciano Becchio and Billy Paynter are all pushing his current partner Andy Keogh for a place in the side with Becchio hoping to make his first start of the season having recently made two cameo appearances from the bench.
A number of Manchester United's youngsters are likely to feature as Alex Ferguson rotates his side. Will Keane and Paul Pogba are two who could get a run out whilst Michael Owen is likely to make his first appearance this season. Dimitar Berbatov, Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher are three household names who are also likely to play a part however England internationals Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand are amongst those that will miss out.
One to watch:
With the likes of Michael Owen, Ryan Giggs, Dimitar Berbatov and Park Ji-Sung all likely to be on the Elland Road turf it is hard to single out one player. However, I'm going to give it a go and say that Antonio Valencia is the man to keep an eye out for. The pacey wing man has worked hard to recover from a horrendous ankle injury suffered at the start of last season and his form since returning has been so good that the Ecuador International penned a new four year contract in August. Valencia has a canny ability to beat his man and create chances for his colleagues and if the Whites are to have any chance the supply he aims to provide must be quelled.
A game like this is impossible to predict as the fact that we have been poor in our last two outings means nothing. These games bring the best out of our players as we have seen over the last two years in which time we have more than held our own against Liverpool, Man Utd, Tottenham and Arsenal. I wouldn't say i am bursting with excitement for this game nor am i dreading the outcome like some of my fellow supporters. If our players are up for it then there is every chance another miracle could occur, especially given the players that Ferguson is likely to leave out. Come on Leeds.
Last six meetings:
3rd January 2010 - Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United (F.A Cup)
21st February 2004 - Manchester United 1-1 Leeds United
28th October 2003 - Leeds United 2-3 Manchester United (League Cup, aet)
18th October 2003 - Leeds United 0-1 Manchester United
5th March 2003 - Manchester United 2-1 Leeds United
14th September 2002 - Leeds United 1-0 Manchester United