Match: Leeds United v Sheffield United
Date: 27 October 2017
Time: 19.45 BST, 14.45 EDT
Venue: Elland Road
Television: Sky Sports
Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)
All-time Record: Leeds United v Sheffield United 29W 23D 26L
Leeds United will host Sheffield United in a Yorkshire derby tonight, looking to win a second league match in a row after losing three straight before winning away at Bristol City last weekend. The club will also be looking to to put the slight disappointment of being knocked out of the League Cup by Leicester City on Tuesday as well.
As a show of appreciation for Toby Nye, we would like to invite all #lufc fans to join us in a one minute's applause during the 4th minute of Friday's game against @SUFC_tweets— LUFC Trust (@lufctrust) October 25, 2017
The club will be collecting funds for “One Day for Toby” against Sheffield United. Toby Nye, a 4 year old fan, has cancer and his treatment, as of this time, will not be covered by the NHS. Andrea Radrizzani and the club have stepped up to raise funds to help the family, with every employee at the club dedicating one day’s wages to raise funds for his treatment. If the NHS somehow comes through and does end up covering the treatment, the funds will go to another child in the same situation. And while this is a Yorkshire derby, cancer knows no colours, so expect some support from the traveling fans as the Leeds fans plan on clapping in the 4th minute to show support for young Toby.
A strong hint from Christiansen that he’s thinking of going three at the back v Blades. Said he ‘might not need specialist full-back’ (1/2)— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) October 26, 2017
If we’ve learned anything from previous Christiansen press conferences, it’s that whatever he says might happen, expect the opposite. Not likely to change away from Felix Wiedwald? Wiedwald dropped. Pontus Jansson is fit? Jansson not in the team. Everyone available at Millwall? Two defenders out injured.
In that vein, it doesn’t seem likely that the club will go three at the back. It’s all the rage in England right now, but the team hasn’t played that way at all this season. Even at home, derbies against teams that are right above the club in the table are not the time to start experimenting with radical formation changes.
Andy Lonergan will probably get the start again at goalkeeper, as Wiedwald did not inspire confidence or give TC any reason to go back to him after the match against Leicester. While it ended up not mattering in the end, the first Leicester goal was a result of a massive mistake from the big German. He did make some fantastic saves later in the match, but he still refuses to clear out his penalty box with authority, and English teams will eat a keeper alive that are not able to do that.
At the back, despite TC’s “hint” expect to see a rather common lineup. Gaetano Berardi is still suspended the red card he earned after Matty Taylor’s theatrics in the Bristol City match, so Vurnon Anita will likely come in at left-back. Pontus Jansson looked rather human against Leicester, so Matthew Pennington and Liam Cooper will likely get the nod in the centre of defence. Finally, Luke Ayling will play at right back, barring an alien invasion or a zombie apocalypse.
In the midfield, after the success against Bristol City, it would not be surprising to see the same general lineup with Eunan O’Kane and Ronaldo Vieira starting in the central midfield, with Kalvin Phillips pushed up towards a number 10 role. Vieira was absolutely brilliant in his first match starting in the League, and even after playing against Leicester, he should be fine to go against Sheffield United.
Phillips can join the attack when needed, but he’s good enough to track back and help out defensively and put some bite into midfield. Pablo Hernandez and Samu Saiz do not have that in their wheelhouses, which is perfectly fine, as they’re different kinds of players. Phillips may not be as creative as the other two, but as the last match showed, Saiz can still be effective playing on the left wing.
The wingers for the match will likely be the same as they were against Bristol City, with both Samu Saiz and Gjanni Alioski likely to get the nod. They’ll need to get forward and into the box to prevent the striker from being too isolated, as Pierre-Michel Lasogga was often all alone and surrounded by three defenders against Reading FC.
And finally, Pierre-Michel Lasogga should get the start at striker, as he was also rested for the League Cup tie against Leicester City. Hopefully whatever bad food he ate, or a lack of sleep from a new baby, or whatever affected him against Reading has wore off, as he looked like his old self against Bristol City last Saturday.
Christiansen in no doubt that tomorrow is a key game. “If we lose we are seven points behind Sheffield United. At this stage it’s too much.”— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) October 26, 2017
In years past, many managers would have tried to downplay the importance of the “big game” status of the match against Sheffield United, but TC seems to believe that identifying it as a “big game” will not create too much pressure for his players. The teams haven’t played each other in over six years, so this match may not have the animosity that a match against Huddersfield Town or Sheffield Wednesday may have, but it’s still an important derby.
To be honest, at this level of football, players already know what is and what is not a “big game” and will act accordingly, and the manager (or head coach) talking to the press about it really doesn’t make a difference. Everyone can see the table. Everyone knows that this match is a local derby, and if they didn’t know before, they know now. It’s a little silly to expect that a few words said to a journalist in a press conference will really create any more pressure than already exists.
Leeds is rolling again, even after losing against Leicester City in the League Cup. The team that everyone loved seeing in August and the first half of September made a return against Bristol, and as long as Christiansen keeps pressing the right buttons, that team should once again show up tonight. 2-0 Leeds.
Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Lonergan; Ayling, Cooper, Pennington, Anita; O’Kane, Vieira; Saiz, Phillips, Alioski; Lassoga.
Sheffield United: (3-5-2) Blackman; Basham, Carter-Vickers, O'Connell; Baldock, Coutts, Duffy, Fleck, Stevens; Clarke, Sharp