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Leeds United at Blackburn Rovers preview: Whites hope to bounce back at Ewood Park

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Out of the FA Cup, but back to the important Championship push. Leeds face twice-beaten Blackburn for the third time in 2016/17.

Blackburn Rovers v Blackpool - The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
Blackburn advanced in the FA Cup against Blackpool, but will they show up on Wednesday?
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Biblical metaphors of David vs. Goliath are what the FA Cup is built on. It’s a competition in which the ‘big boys’ of the national game can be humbled when ‘we get them to our place’ on wind and rain swept pitches. Feathers ruffled, defences shaken and desire depleted.

Leeds United suitably filled the role of Goliath in their game against Sutton United on Sunday. Their performance was tepid and was highly deserving of a defeat.

The score line could have looked worse; Sutton had a goal unfairly ruled out, on second viewing, for offside in the 17th minute. Leeds didn’t offer any sort of response either. Aside from a Stuart Dallas chance midway through the first half, Leeds’ play lacked cohesion and they seldom threatened to equalise. Any of the traveling Leeds fans hoping for a rousing comeback to materialise left disappointed.

Moving On (and Up) Together

The loss against Sutton was embarrassing, so let’s hope that Leeds can quickly dispel it from their memories (and ours) with a win at Ewood Park.

The Whites will be looking to continue their great form in recent weeks. Since the beginning of December, Leeds have played 10 games in the Championship and won 7. In the process, this has cemented their position in the playoffs.

Years of pessimism may finally being washed away as fans dare to look toward playing in the Premiership again, and even toward automatic promotion. The gap between Leeds in 4th and Newcastle in 2nd is just 7 points, not much in a division that changes so frequently.

Leeds go into the game at Ewood Park having already beaten Blackburn twice this year. Both games were played in September at Elland Road and both games required late goals for Leeds to win. This could give them the mental edge needed to close some ground on those above them.

Leeds will also have to hope that the teams around them slip up. Not much will be expected from QPR who travel to Newcastle. There may be room for optimism with Reading traveling to Birmingham. Reading have struggled away from home this season, their defence conceding 26 goals in 13 matches. This may give Giafranco Zola some hope as he still hunts for his first win. Brighton, who top the league, face Huddersfield who are in 5th, just two points behind Leeds. Two points dropped for both teams would be brilliant for Leeds.

Blackburn and Blackpool fans hosted a joint protest against their respective owners before their FA Cup match on Saturday outside Ewood Park. Blackburn may gain some confidence with their 2-0 win over Blackpool. Saying that though, Blackburn have been struggling to find any sort of reliable form. They started off January with a fortunate win against Newcastle, and since then, they have laboured against Ipswich and Birmingham, losing and drawing respectively.

Additions incoming?

Garry Monk made 10 changes going into their game against Sutton. However, Monk’s faith in his reserve team did not pay off. He underestimated a Sutton United side who, apparently, on seeing the team sheet were given confidence.

One thing is clear from this: Leeds lack strength in depth (let’s fix that today, Cellino). Leeds’ threadbare squad has been exposed by a mid-table non-league side. Only two players were making debuts against Sutton, which means many others are back up to the first team. If Leeds should suffer an injury to any of their key players (Wood, Roofe, Bartley, Jansson) it may prove costly.

In the context of selling Mowatt, investments need to be made.

Form

In their last 5 games, Leeds have won 3 and lost 2.

Blackburn have won 3, drawn 1 and lost 1.

Head-to-Head

Leeds have already beaten Blackburn twice this season. Twice.

In their history, these sides have met a total of 97 times. Leeds have come out on top in this fixture on 43 of those occasions whilst Blackburn have won 31; the remaining 23 were draws.

WHAT

Blackburn Rovers vs. Leeds United

EFL Championship fixture

WHERE

Ewood Park

LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds, International Listings

WHEN

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

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

WHO

Leeds United predicted starting XI

Green, Ayling, Jansson, Bartley, Berardi, Vieira, Bridcutt, Hernandez, Roofe, Doukara, Wood

Blackburn Rovers predicted starting XI

Steele, Nyambe, Greer, Lenihan, Williams, Bennett, Lowe, Akpan, Conway, Graham, Gallagher

ODDS

Leeds 6/4

Draw 12/5

Blackburn 2/1

PREDICTION

2-1 Leeds. Blackburn are looking for a win to get them out of the relegation zone: their win over Blackpool in the FA cup may give them a slight confidence boost too. Saying that, Blackburn have struggled defensively this season, and with Mulgrew potentially still out through injury, this will only compound Blackburn's defensive problems. Leeds have already beaten Blackburn twice this year, so they should have the mental edge over them. Having a large portion of the first team getting rested over the weekend should give Leeds an even bigger advantage. I expect a tightly contested game, but Leeds win it. MOT.