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Leeds United at Brighton & Hove Albion preview: Cautious optimism on the South Coast

Leeds look to erase the memory of their last trip to the Amex while facing a top-two squad in the Seagulls of Brighton.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship Play Off: Second Leg
The Seagull faithful have had plenty to cheer in 2016.
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

These are exciting times to be a Leeds fan. We are all getting nose bleeds with our lofty league position, and confidence is running high. Chants of “Leeds are going up” rang out at Elland Road on Saturday... I hope it’s not premature. There have been plenty of other teams up where we are right now but they have fallen away, such as Barnsley, Huddersfield and our newest rivals Norwich.

You need consistency and a good squad to remain.

Monk has built a great squad, albeit a young squad which has depth yet to fulfill their potential. A good sign of that potential is the fact that any number of the younger fringe players could have slotted in last Saturday, held their own and done a job.

With Bridcutt and Hernandez yet to return, there is more to come.

Will it be on the South coast?

The Seagulls are also soaring high, but they failed last year on their quest to migrate to the Premier. That will be on their minds as they hunt for an automatic spot to avoid any repeats of last season. Without stand-out performers, to the neutral, their consistency seems to be one of their strengths.

Leeds also won’t want a repeat of last year’s display at the Amex where they fell apart whilst under Steve Evans’ stewardship. I don’t think there’s much fear of that in our current form.

This will be an interesting match and one I hope we don’t approach with too much caution. We have excellent counter-attacking players in Sacko and Roofe, but I don’t want us to sit back as we’re likely to do. Let’s take it to them.

What we know about Brighton

The Seagulls finished 3rd in the league last year losing out on automatic promotion on goal difference only. They were knocked out by Sheffield Wednesday in the play offs.

Their Manager, Chrissy Houghton, is now one of the most experienced managers in the Championship. It will be his second anniversary at Brighton later this month.

Most of their attacks come down the left wing but I know a couple guys that might want to get involved in that.

Glenn Murray returned to Brighton from Premier League Bournemouth on a season long loan. Murray is their leading scorer with 11 in 18 appearances. He’s our player to watch. (But our man Chris Wood beats that with 13 from 19 appearances.)

They have lost only 2 games in the league all season, and one of those was to league leaders Newcastle, the other a blip against Brentford. They will be a challenge.

Form

Leeds have won 4 and lost 1 game in their last five, whilst Brighton have won 3 drawn 2. Both teams are coming in hot.

Head-to-Head

From 21 games, Brighton have won 9, Leeds 7, and 5 drawn.

WHAT

Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Leeds United

EFL Championship fixture

WHERE

American Express Community Stadium, Brighton

LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds

WHEN

Friday, December 9, 2016

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

WHO

Leeds United predicted Starting XI

Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor, O’Kane, Phillips, Sacko, Doukara, Roofe, Wood

Brighton predicted starting XI

Stockdale, Bong, Dunk, Duffy, Saltor, Murphy, Sidwell, Stephens, Skalak, Baldock, Murray

ODDS

Leeds 10/3

Draw 12/5

Brighton 17/20

PREDICTION

This will be a hard-fought cagey affair. My heart says Leeds win, head says we draw. 1-1.