Football returns to Elland Road on Wednesday night to give Garry Monk’s men an early opportunity to put Saturday’s defeat at Burnsley to bed. Leeds United again face another red-shirted team, this time in the form of now-managerless Nottingham Forest.
Nottingham sacked Phillipe Montanier after a dismal six months in-charge during which he mustered just 9 wins from 30 outings. Sitting just outside the relegation zone, Forest have the dubious honour of having the second worst defensive record in the league... just behind lowly Rotherham.
Montanier has become the 7th managerial victim of owner Fawaz Al Hasawi’s reign. They have also recently parted company with arguably one of their best players after Henry Lansbury was sold to Villa. A recent buyout by a US-led consortium has fallen through and fans have voiced their opinions by way of demonstrations calling for Al Hasawi to move on. Sound familiar?
Even so, we’ve no time for sympathy: this league moves quickly and we need to get back on track as play off hopefuls attempt to hunt Leeds down and steal our place. Derby County, Fulham and of course Barnsley all narrowed the gap Saturday.
Just last week, Forest installed Gary Brazil as caretaker manager and it quickly paid dividends after he dropped all but one of Montanier’s summer signings. Nottingham recorded their first win since the 2nd of December. As everyone knows, new manager syndrome can turn the plight of an ailing side around and Gary Brazil himself declares relegation is not an issue for Forest as long as the players buy into his hard work ethos.
Expect them to battle on Wednesday.
Leeds meanwhile will welcome back Pontus Jansson to a likely starting position after he served the last of a two-game ban against Barnsley. This, the form of Chris Wood and Leeds United’s home form in front of their boisterous fans should be enough to pull them over the line.
Charlie Taylor and Hadi Sacko are the only doubts for this one (at time of publication).
Players to watch
Leeds United’s Chris Wood needs one more goal to take him to 20 so far. At the start of the season bookmakers offered 16/1 on him reaching that target. Take up on that offer was high. Every time Wood gets the ball Wednesday, there will be a lot of Leeds fans on the edge of their seats for more than just footballing reasons.
I predict Forest will battle for a draw and may be reduced to set pieces. Ben Osborn’s brilliant free kick against Bristol Rovers in their last game was enough to secure three points. He will be a danger man.
From their last 5 league games Leeds United’s form reads W3 D1 L1.
Nottingham Forest last five read quite the opposite: W1 D1 L3.
From 43 games between the two storied clubs, Leeds have won 20 and drawn 14, with Forest taking maximum points on 9 occasions.
Leeds United vs. Nottingham Forest
EFL Championship fixture
Elland Road, Leeds
LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds, International Listings
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
11:45am PT / 2:45pm ET / 7:45pm BT
Leeds United predicted starting XI
Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi, Phillips, Bridcutt, Roofe, Doukara, Hernandez, Wood
Nottingham Forest predicted starting XI
Henderson, Lichaj, Mills, Hobbs, Pinillos, Mancienne, Vaughan, Cash, Osborn, Ward, Assombalonga
I am no mathematician, but those odds look about right and the variables are: Forest’s away form + Leeds home form x bouncing back from the Barnsley defeat = Leeds victory. 2-0 Leeds.