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Leeds United's Three Potential “Men of the Match” for Monday vs. Rotherham

Can Leeds start 2017 with the same passion from 2016? Our three potential MOTM candidates will have a say in the first match of the new year.

Aston Villa v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship
A man hungry for goals, will Doukara earn MOTM today?

Home sweet home.

That will be the feeling that this Leeds squad will have when they return to Elland Road and face last-place Rotherham. Lowly Rotherham has lost 14 of their last 17 matches in the Championship which has led to them only securing 11 points this season.

Leeds, on the other hand, are enjoying a breakout season under Monk and are on a four-game unbeaten streak that has them sitting in fifth. The draw against Aston Villa will be a small, almost unnoticeable blemish on an otherwise positive December for the Whites. Monk will be frustrated that his side did not come away with all three point, with Villa scoring from the penalty spot in the dying embers of the match, but a point at Villa is not a warning sign.

Still, Monk’s message to the players: Let’s get back on the winning track.

The attacking momentum Leeds were able to gather against Preston might have stalled, but Monk will know that for recovering that scoring touch, Rotherham is the perfect opponent.

So who can Leeds fans expect to help secure the win on Monday?

We have three potential Man of the Match winners that can make the difference in a game where Leeds might need to get all three points to stay in the top six in the first week of January.

1. Kyle Bartley

After missing out on the last match, Leeds supporters are hopeful that captain Bartley will be able to make his return.

A constant physical presence in defense, Bartley must continue playing with strength and consistency to help Leeds push on in the second half of the season. His partnership with Pontus Jansson is the foundation that Leeds are built on.

A major positive for Monk is the fact that he can count on Bartley to contribute on the attacking side of the ball as well. If Leeds can get some set-piece opportunities, look for Bartley to cause confusion in the box and maybe even get on the score sheet with his heading ability.

Let’s hope the outcome of this match keeps Bartley dancing.

On the other side:

Aimen Belaid, apparently a Rotherham fan favorite, is the man that the Leeds offense will have to figure out if they want to see goals come their way.

Belaid has had some super outings for Rotherham despite their record. His strengths lie in his ability to block shots and clear the ball out of dangerous areas, so passes will have to be accurate and shots will have to fly early if they are to catch out Belaid.

Belaid’s major weakness is his inability to constantly cut out aerial threats. If Leeds are able to put in accurate crosses they will be able to cause a lot of headaches for the Rotherham defense.

2. Kalvin Phillips

Phillips will have to be sharp after a mediocre outing against Aston Villa.

His primary role as a defensive midfielder means he will be tasked with cutting out any attacking threats that come at Leeds before they have the chance to develop. Averaging just over two tackles a match and one and a half interceptions shows he is more than capable of making a difference in defense.

Monk will also want Phillips to string together some passes from his position to launch attacks for Leeds as they look to capitalize on any mistakes Rotherham make. Phillips has almost one key pass per game and he will hopefully have many more with a weaker opponent in front of him.

And if he really wants to make the difference, why not chip in a goal as well.

On the other side:

Lee Frecklington plays a very similar role to Phillips and is considered by many to be the most valuable player Rotherham have. See this tweet:

Told you. Interceptions, defensive contributions, and key passes are all in Frecklington’s arsenal. In fact, he is averaging the same exact amount of key passes as Phillips. This means that Leeds will have to just aware of Frecklington as Rotherham will be aware of Phillips.

If Leeds can pressure him, Frecklington is susceptible to turning the ball over, which can lead to more attacking opportunities for the Whites.

3. Souleymane Doukara

The main attacking threat when Chris Wood was out, Doukara will have to get his scoring boots on again if he wants to maintain his spot in the starting XI.

Currently, Doukara has a total of four goals and one assist this season. But real Leeds fans will know that his contribution is much bigger than those numbers will tell you.

Monk is aware that Doukara is more than capable of scoring goals if he can slightly improve his finishing ability. Case and point of what Leeds can do as a team and what Doukara needs to contribute below:

Look for him to have a plethora of chances against Rotherham and increase his goal tally.

On the other side:

Tread carefully Leeds defense.

Danny Ward has been a consistent attacking threat for Rotherham with an impressive nine goals and two assists so far this season. Not bad at all. Bartley and company will have to be extra careful with the quickness of Ward who can easily cut inside and cause all sorts of trouble.

If Jansson and Bartley can limit service to Ward than his attacking threat will be limited, But this is not a man who needs too many chances to get on the score sheet so it will be interesting to see how Monk goes about keeping the heavily desired Ward quiet.

Garry Monk, the Leeds players, and all the fans will know that this match is a must-win. Three points is the only satisfactory outcome against the last place team in the Championship, at home in front of an enormous crowd.

If Leeds are to truly secure promotion this season, they will have to prove it in the matches where they will be heavily favored.

So will Leeds get back to their winning ways? Or does Rotherham have a trick up their sleeve to ruin the start of a new year for the Whites?

Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter. Hopefully, we will March on Together to victory to start this year of endless possibilities and promotion dreams.