After a stellar performance last Friday against Derby County (and a slow news week since), Leeds United travel to Oakwell to face Barnsley on Saturday evening and look to keep up with Newcastle and Brighton in the race for automatic promotion. The Whites are in wonderful form and will be expected to put in another high-class performance to carry on this drive to the Premier League.
I expect Monk’s starting XI to be very similar to the one he used in the victory against Derby. However, even after his wonderful display against the Rams, I expect we will see Lewie Coyle return to the bench, Luke Ayling will move back to the right, and Liam Cooper will return to the team if he is fit. Pontus Jansson will serve the second of his match suspensions and Charlie Taylor is still unlikely to be fit to play the game.
For Leeds to take the Yorkshire bragging rights depends on three factors:
Not getting carried away with the hype.
After the dominating display last Friday at Elland Road, people have finally realised the threat that this Leeds side really possess. However, we all need to not get carried away – it’s only January and we still have a vast amount of games to play before we can celebrate. The players will have to not let themselves get distracted by the attention now surrounding Elland Road and get the job done in the professional manner they have so far this season.
Taking advantage of a wounded Barnsley.
Barnsley have struggled for various reasons over the last few weeks, and Leeds need to take advantage of that and be straight on top of Barsnley from the word “go.” If we can score first, the likelihood is that Barnsley’s heads will drop and points will be there for the taking. Barnsley lack a real strength in depth, and after 120 minutes of FA Cup football on Tuesday they will struggle to get back into the game. However, if we let the Tykes settle and gain confidence at Oakwell, it may become a more difficult evening for Leeds.
Same as last time, please.
Leeds have been getting better and better as the season has progressed but last time the performance was truly magical and, if we can replicate Friday’s performance, the victory will be in the bag. Everyone will be expecting Leeds to slip up at some point in this wonderful run, because that’s what we always do, but if we can continue to show the same level of drive and determination, we should be able to handle the Tykes.
What we know about Barnsley
It has been a difficult couple of weeks for our South Yorkshire rivals: the sale of their talisman Sam Winnall to another South Yorkshire side, Sheffield Wednesday, was a kick in the teeth for the Tykes. Since then, they have lost to Fulham last week, and on Tuesday they were knocked out of the FA Cup by League Two side Blackpool. Hopefully, Leeds can kick the Tykes when they’re down on Saturday.
Paul Heckingbottom carried on the momentum from last season’s promotion and has them sitting tenth in the Championship, but again, it’s been a rough start to 2017 for the club.
After a well-documented difficult few weeks, the man from Wirral has been demoted from his duties as a Premier League referee and will take charge of the game on Saturday. Don’t be surprised to see penalties and red cards galore in the match with the eccentric Dean in charge... or he could play it straight and try to earn his own move back up.
Leeds won in the return fixture at Elland Road at the beginning of October, 2-1, with goals from Bartley and Hernandez giving us the points. Over the last 10 games, Leeds have an indifferent experience in games against Barnsley, winning 3, losing 4, and drawing 3.
Leeds’ brilliant form is the foundation for why we currently sit nicely in 3rd in the Championship table. We won 8 out of the last 10 fixtures in the league. In the last 5 games we’ve picked up 4 wins and one draw, against Aston Villa.
Barnsley’s form in the league has been inconsistent this season and the last 5 games have been no different, with 2 wins coming against Blackburn and Nottingham Forest in the last 5 games.
Barnsley vs. Leeds United
EFL Championship fixture
Sky Sports 1, beIN Sports, LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds, International Listings
Saturday, January 21, 2017
09:30am PT / 12:30am ET / 5:30pm BT
Leeds United predicted starting XI
Green, Ayling, Cooper, Bartley, Berardi, Bridcutt, Vieira, Roofe, Hernandez, Doukara, Wood
Barnsley predicted starting XI
Davies, Bree, Roberts, MacDonald, White, Watkins, Scowen, Hourihane, Hammill, Moncur, Bradshaw
2-0 Leeds. Leeds have the benefit of an 8-day rest, and Barnsley had the pleasure of playing last Saturday and playing another 120 mins on Tuesday evening to no avail. I predict that the Barnsley players won’t have enough quality or energy to keep up with this top Leeds side, and Leeds will ease to a 2-0 victory on Saturday evening. MOT