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Preview: Leeds To Give Birmingham The Blues?

Birmingham City visit Elland Road on Saturday hoping to capitalise on United’s poor home form, whereas Leeds will be battling for their first home win of the season.

Giuseppe Bellusci was calamitous in Leeds' defeat at Middlesbrough
Giuseppe Bellusci was calamitous in Leeds' defeat at Middlesbrough
Richard Sellers/Getty Images

With Leeds occupying 15th place in the table and Birmingham sitting in the play-off places in 5th, you’d be forgiven for thinking they had started the season much better. In truth there has been very little between the sides. Both sides have two defeats to their name whereas The Blues have two additional victories compared to United’s draws. When you consider the late concessions to Burnley and Bristol, we could easily be sitting alongside them.

That is the difference. Individual errors have cost The Whites dear this season and that must be a worry for Uwe Rosler who must surely make changes after the heavy defeat at the Riverside.

Questions must be asked of Giuseppe Bellusci after his performance last weekend. His failure to clear a simple cross, coupled with a spectacular own goal conspired to sink The Whites against a Middlesbrough side who were far from their best.

Marco Silvestri, who was imperious here last season was complicit in the own goal too. His failure to command his area forced the hapless defender into an attempted clearance which in all honesty did not need to be made. It has frequently been a criticism of the Leeds United goal keeper, a tremendous shot stopper but lacks the presence to command and organise defenders.

Add in Sol Bamba’s slip for the third and the truth was Leeds United beat themselves. In the middle of the park there was some excellent performances, with Leeds matching Boro blow for blow. In fact, for large parts of the second half Leeds were superior. Things may have turned out differently had Mirco Antenucci's perfectly legal goal near the hour mark been allowed to stand when Leeds had Boro on the rack. However, the goal was disallowed for offside.

Chris Wood’s absence was evident as Leeds, although dangerous at times, lacked the attacking threat ever-present when he plays.

Uwe will assess Wood this morning hoping he will be in contention for this weekend, and now that Will Buckley's 93 day emergency loan arrival from Sunderland is confirmed, he has some welcome selection decisions to make. Buckley, Jordan Botaka, Stuart Dallas and Sam Byram are all available out wide for Leeds.

Liam Cooper must surely now replace Giuseppe Bellusci alongside Sol Bamba in central defence.

Birmingham City arrive at Elland Road on the back of an impressive 2-0 away victory at Brentford during mid-week, keeping only their second clean sheet of the season so far.

Blues new signing Emmanuel Mbende is not expected to make the squad after penning a deal this week until the end of the season. The defender was released by Borussia Dortmund at the end of last season.

Jonathan Spector, Jon Toral and Jacques Maghoma were rested midweek and all are in contention for the weekend.

Blues striker Andrew Shinnie missed the trip to Griffin Park with a hamstring injury and he has also been ruled out of this weekend’s clash.

Both sets of fans will be championing the "Twenty is Plenty" campaign on Saturday, alongside other Premier League and Championship sides. The campaign is aimed at making away games more affordable by capping the ticket prices at £20.

It’s a must win game for Leeds. Another defeat at Elland Road would see The Whites slip even further behind the playoff places, whereas a win would put them right back in contention.

Last season it finished honours even between the two sides. Both of the games at Elland Road and St Andrews finishing in a 1-1 draw.

It should be in interesting encounter on Saturday, Leeds really need to stop the rot which is now well established at Elland Road, but Saturday will give them a good chance to do that. If they can eliminate the defensive errors plaguing the side at present, they certainly have craft and pace in midfield, and the fire power up front to punish the Blues.

Conversely, Birmingham have enough quality to capitalise on any errors and defensive frailties could easily be exploited.

I’m expecting an evenly balanced game but I think Leeds will have just enough to carry them over the line. A home win, albeit a close and nervy one.

Prediction: Leeds United 2-1 Birmingham City