Date: 24 October 2017
Time: 19.45 BST, 14.45 EDT
Venue: King Power Stadium
Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)
All-time Record: Leeds United v Leicester City 47W 33D 42L
Leeds United finally stopped its three match losing streak this past Saturday, winning 3-0 against Bristol City at Ashton Gate. Thomas Christiansen made a few changes to the side that lost at home to Reading FC and the team was able to regain some momentum and put away some of the bad feelings after the three straight losses.
Leeds are in the round of 16 in the League, er, Carabao Cup courtesy of the win on penalties against Burnley. Leeds faced off against a couple old “friends” during the match, as both Charlie Taylor and Chris Wood departed for Lancashire during the summer transfer window.
While Christiansen was quick to suggest that Leeds will be taking every match seriously and looking to go as far as they can in the Cup competition, Christiansen has also used the League Cup as an opportunity to get some fringe players some match experience. Pawel Cibicki, for example, has made his only appearance for Leeds in the League Cup against Burnley, and Jay-Roy Grot got a start for Leeds against Burnley as well.
I would also expect to see Christiansen not move away from the 4-2-3-1 formation he has preferred up to this point in the season. While the team on paper looked to be lining up in a 4-3-3 against Bristol City, in practice Kalvin Phillips played in the number 10 role behind Pierre-Michel Lasogga.
Up top, while Jay-Roy Grot did not set the world on fire against Burnley, it would make sense for the big man to get the start again in a Cup match. Kemar Roofe could also start up top for the Leeds, and if he does it might signify that Christiansen is looking to get a result against Leicester.
In the attacking midfield and winger positions, look for Cibicki to get his second start for Leeds as well as Hadi Sacko. Sacko seems to have rejuvenated his Leeds career after scoring a goal against Burnley, and he has been coming off the bench after not even making the bench in previous matches. Kemar Roofe also has a chance to start on the wing after not appearing in the match against Bristol City. Pablo Hernandez, after not appearing against Bristol City, should get the start in the attacking midfield position, but it would be surprising to see him go the whole 90 minutes.
In central midfield, look for Mateusz Klich to partner Ronaldo Vieira. Vieira played brilliantly against Bristol City, and has not appeared in very many Championship matches, so he should be fresh enough to appear in the Cup. Klich has made one league start, in the Cardiff City debacle, and I would expect him to once again get the start in the Cup match.
The back four will be missing Berardi as he serves his suspension after his daft, yet enjoyable, red card against Bristol City. Luke Ayling has been an absolute warhorse for Leeds, and he should start at right-back for Leeds against Leicester. Vurnon Anita will likely lineup at left-back, but should Christiansen choose to give Ayling a bit of a breather, look for Borthwick-Jackson to come in at left-back and Anita slide over to the right back position.
In the centre of defence, Pontus Jansson should once again get a start after missing the last match. He has been less than 100% fit for a few weeks now, even missing out on Sweden’s World Cup matches during the last international break to heal up. He’s got to get in against Leicester and look to regain the form that has made him a fan favourite. Of course, he’s not been as bad as he think he has, but whatever. Conor Shaughnessy should partner him in the centre of defence as well, giving Liam Cooper and Matthew Pennington the night off.
In goal, while this would be a good opportunity for Felix Wiedwald to play his way back into starting contention, I have a hunch that Andy Lonergan gets the start once again and Wiedwald might need to figure out if he can get out of his lease.
This match is hard to predict because of the variables going into it. Leicester City’s caretaker manager, Michael Appleton could decide to trot out his top XI, seeing as the team is in need of a big win or two to right the ship and get himself into contention for the full-time role. Appleton could also decide to forget about the League Cup altogether and throw the kids out there to run around and concentrate on the Premier League. The Foxes host Everton, who just sacked Ronald Koeman, in their next Premier League match and are only one point above the relegation zone.
My heart says that Leeds will win this match and go into the quarterfinals, but my head tells me that Leicester has better depth with the extra funds available that being in the Premier League affords. Islam Slimani, who is likely to feature tonight, may not be able to work his way into the starting lineup at Leicester, but he cost £30 million, which is more than the entire starting XI at Leeds. Leicester City 2-1 over Leeds and Leeds can get back to worrying about beating Sheffield United at home on Friday night.
Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Lonergan; Ayling, Jansson, Shaughnessy, Anita; Klich, Vieira; Cibicki, Hernandez, Sacko; Grot
Leicester City: (4-4-2) Hamer; Amartey, Morgan, Dragovic, Chilwell; Albrighton, Choudhury, Iborra, Gray; Ulloa, Slimani