Leeds United’s 2016/17 FA Cup campaign starts on Monday night when they make the journey to the Abbey Stadium (or Cambs Glass, whatever) to face a Cambridge side looking to make a statement by knocking out a team in the higher embers of English Football.
Garry Monk is set make numerous changes to his starting XI. I expect Bartley will be the only player to retain his place in the team from the game against Rotherham, just as he did in the early rounds of the EFL Cup. The fans will be buoyed by the fact that Eunan O’Kane is set to return to the team after a hefty injury lay off, as he looks to make the 18 for the first time in weeks.
For me, there are three key points to the cup tie at Cambridge:
Players taking their chances
Garry Monk is set to give some of the fringe players their chance tomorrow. Matt Grimes and Marcus Antonsson should be given the chance to make a difference up front, as I expect Garry Monk will go 4-2-3-1. Alex Mowatt should also be given the chance to show he is still the player we all know he can be (I tip him to score a goal tomorrow in my prediction below). As is the Leeds tradition, young Tyler Denton, Lewie Coyle and Mallik Wilks should all feature for the mighty Whites as well.
Avoiding the replay
Leeds will need to treat the game with the same conviction that they have so far this season to get the win. Against a League Two side, the Whites should be able to get the job done with a simple efficient and disciplined performance. We are currently pushing forward in the league and can’t afford unnecessary replays this month.
Cambridge will be focused and geared up as they will want to make a martyr out of Leeds at home. The Leeds players will need to knock the wind from the Cambridge players’ sails and make them realise that we are a top Championship side. Hopefully, we score early and show Cambridge the quality that goes along with that, eventually winning by a comfortable margin.
What we know about Cambridge
Cambridge United are having a decent season under former Leeds player Shaun Derry. Derry made himself to the Elland Road faithful by playing with passion between 2005 and 2007, even being vice-captain of the club under manager Dennis Wise. His current United are presently chasing the playoff positions in League Two. A convincing 4-0 victory last time out against Notts County is testament to the threat the Cambridge players hold. They also have a decent home record this season - only losing two games at the Abbey Stadium, and they beat Coventry 4-0 in FA Cup Round Two a month ago to set up this third round tie.
Leeds United: W-D-W-W-W
Leeds’ form over the last month has been impeccable - winning 4 and drawing 1, with our last defeat coming at the hands of high flying Brighton at the beginning of December.
Cambridge United: W-D-W-W-W
Cambridge are also currently on a 5 match undefeated streak winning 4 and drawing one in League Two, a streak which has seen the The U’s rise to 9th in the table.
Leeds and Cambridge have only played against each other on 4 occasions and so far, Leeds are undefeated, winning 2 and drawing 2.
Leeds United at Cambridge United
FA Cup Round Three
The Abbey Stadium, Cambridge
BT Sport, Fox Sports 2, LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds, International Listings
Monday, January 9, 2017
11:45am PT / 02:45pm ET / 7:45pm BT
Leeds United predicted starting XI
Silvestri, Coyle, Bartley, Cooper, Denton, O’Kane, Phillips, Mowatt, Dallas, Grimes, Antonsson
Cambridge United predicted starting XI
Norris, Taylor, Legge, Roberts, Adams, Dunne, Clark, Mingoia, Berry, Williamson, Ikpeazu
2-0 Leeds. The Whites will avoid the potential banana skins of Cambridge. Leeds will make various changes tomorrow night, but the quality and the way Garry Monk sets up his team will put Cambridge out of the Cup and leave Leeds watching the draw for their fourth round opponent. MOT.