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Leeds United vs. Reading preview: A Must Win against an in-form Side

The visitors might be Royals, but there won’t be any parade for Reading at Elland Road on Tuesday night. 

Reading v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

After Saturday’s defeat at Brighton, Leeds will need to react with a solid performance against one of the league’s top sides in Reading on Tuesday night at Elland Road. Leeds’ form against the rest of the top 6 is poor, with losses against all the other four sides currently residing in the play-off positions.

Liam Bridcutt is set to return to the XI replacing Kalvin Phillips after his dismissal and suspension at the weekend. Liam Cooper is a possibility, however, I expect that he may start on the bench. Lewie Coyle, Eunan O'Kane and Pablo Hernandez are all still missing.

A Leeds win relies on three key points:

Patience is a virtue

The Leeds players must be patient as Reading will try and keep the ball as much as they can. The Whites need to be disciplined in their approach to this game. In the first half especially, Reading will likely look like the home side and the Leeds players need to stay calm and stick to their own game. If Leeds can approach the game in a similar way to the EFL cup fixture against Liverpool, I am confident we will have success.

Utilising the pace in the team

Reading’s ball retention is a problem, but as they push forward they will leave space at the back and the players need to take advantage of this. I expect that we may see Dallas replace Doukara as, with his pace alongside Roofe and Sacko, he could be a major factor. A counter-attacking approach and Wood’s ability to peel off the defenders could facilitate Leeds taking the game to our Berkshire visitors.

Showing no respect

One problem with Leeds this season is that they have been showing teams too much respect. We need to show a ruthless aggression; if they smell fear and the momentum swinging in our favour, we need to attack and put the game to bed.

If we are to sustain a playoff push, we need to use tomorrow night’s game as an example we have the cojones to beat the division’s high-flying sides. We need to send a message to everyone in the league that Leeds United are truly in this for the long haul.

What do we know about Reading FC?

Reading have been fantastic this season, sitting nice and pretty at 3rd in the division. The main reason for this is the appointment of former Manchester United CB Jaap Stam. Stam, who was previously coaching at Ajax, has introduced a very effective possession-based format within the Reading squad, and this is paying dividends on the pitch. However, Leeds will feel a little positive because Reading’s performances on the road have been a little suspect, as they have found themselves on the wrong end of heavy away defeats against Brentford and Fulham.

Form

Based on current form, anything is possible tomorrow night. Leeds have won 3 of their last 5 games with wins coming against Norwich, Rotherham, and Aston Villa. The two defeats coming against the league’s top two sides. W-L-W-W-L

Reading’s form has been very consistent over the last 5 games; they have won 4 with wins against Nottingham Forest, Wigan, Burton and Sheffield Wednesday. However, they only lost was against Fulham at Craven Cottage and they were beaten convincingly 5-0. W-W-W-L-W

Head-to-Head

In the last ten games, Leeds have beaten Reading only twice, drawn 4 and lost 4. A positive is that Leeds have not lost in the last 4 against Reading and were victorious in this fixture last season, winning the game 3-2. Last ten games: D-D-L-L-L-L-D-W-D-W

WHAT

Leeds United vs. Reading

EFL Championship fixture

WHERE

Elland Road, Leeds

LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds, International Listings

WHEN

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

11:45am PT / 2:45pm ET / 7:45pm BT

WHO

Leeds United predicted Starting XI

Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor, Bridcutt, Vieira, Sacko, Dallas, Roofe, Wood

Reading predicted starting XI

Al Habsi, Gunter, McShane, Moore, Blackett, Van der Berg, Evans, Beerens, McCleary, Obita, Samuel

ODDS

Leeds 6/5

Draw 23/10

Reading 9/4

PREDICTION

1-0 Leeds. Reading are in great form, but Garry Monk will have demanded a response, and I believe the lads will take stock. They will let Reading have the ball and use their pace on the counter to full advantage with Sacko breaking free early in the 2nd half and scoring the game’s only goal. MOT.