Most seasons, one of the three newly promoted clubs stand out in their new division. Currently that club is Barnsley, whose results are defying the footballing gravity that often befalls promoted sides.
Paul Heckingbottom’s unfancied South Yorkshire side, Barnsley FC, are currently four places above Leeds United in tenth spot. Putting the likes of Derby, QPR and Wolves to the sword is no mean feat on a meagre budget. Heckingbottom has assembled a young squad (Adam Hammill is the veteran at 28) of largely British players whose enthusiasm and togetherness must be the envy of most Championship dressing rooms.
Former Manchester United trainee Heckingbottom is a local Barnsley lad and former Barnsley player. He had 2 spells as caretaker manager before being given the job full time earlier this year. This may well be somewhat of a honeymoon period for him and his team Barnsley, but they will hope to continue this period Saturday against their rivals from West Yorkshire. The Tykes reserve some of their best displays for when they play the Whites.
Their last trip to Elland Road, in 2013, ended nil-nil which may not stand out were it not for the fact it was only their second clean sheet of the season at that time, and they finished the match with ten men.
Jansson in doubt, Bridcutt also out
Leeds could be without Pontus Jansson who very well could be credited for the upturn in United’s defensive performances in recent games. He limped off Tuesday evening, early in the second half, but an appearance now looks possible for Saturday.
Jansson was out on the grass today so there's a good chance for him. Monk, though, said he'd have no worries about starting Cooper #lufclive— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) September 29, 2016
Bridcutt has also been sidelined for a further 6 weeks after a scan on his injured foot this week revealed further problems. However, Berardi may make the squad.
For Barnsley, former Leeds prospect Aidan White will sit this game out, but Adam Hammill hopes to make it.
Football for sale
One man who wont be traveling with Barnsley is former United favourite Tommy Wright, who was sacked from his position as Assistant Coach after being fingered in the #football4sale expose by the daily Telegraph. Wright allegedly took £5000 from undercover reporters as a bung payment to help in the signing of a fictitious consortium’s players.
That same fraud spotlight has also turned once again to our Owner/President/Rule Breaker and anti-PR specialist Massimo Cellino. The #TTGM group will be saying “I told you so” before the match.
Back to on-the-pitch matters: If Jansson’s hamstring does keep him out, I’d like to see Beraradi start at right back with Ayling and Bartley the Centre back pairing and Taylor making up the back four. With Bridcutt out altogether, how about we keep Dallas, Okane, Hernandez and Sacko in midfield with Antonsson and Wood the forward pair?
From 29 games at Elland Road, Leeds have secured 14 victories and 9 draws. Barnsley have taken the spoils just 6 times.
Leeds United’s last 5 league games: W3 L2 D0
Barnsley’s last 5 league games: W2 L2 D1
Leeds Player to Watch
Kyle Bartley has taken to his role as Captain in Bridcutt’s absence. His commanding presence is another factor in United’s improved defence. Since joining from Swansea in the summer he has been an ever-present at the heart of Leeds’ back line. A clean sheet please Kyle.
Barnsley Player to Watch
Sam Winnall was the subject of transfer interest from Leeds last season. This much hyped player will be hoping for a starting place at Elland Road on Saturday after coming off the bench and scoring to rescue a point for the Tykes against Aston Villa.
Leeds United vs. Barnsley
EFL Championship fixture
Elland Road, Leeds
LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds
Saturday, October 1, 2016
7:00am PT / 10:00am ET / 3:00pm BT
Leeds United’s predicted XI
Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor, Sacko, Dallas, Phillips, Hernandez, O’Kane, Wood
Barnsley’s predicted XI
Davies, Yiadom, Roberts MacDonald, Kpekawa, Watkins, Morsy, Hourihane, Scowen, Kent, Winnall
Those are good odds for the draw, but I favor Leeds to just shade this one. 2-1 to the home side.