Date: 31 October 2017
Time: 19.45 BST, 15.45 EDT
Venue: Elland Road
Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)
Streaming: LUTV for overseas fans.
All-time Record: Leeds United v Derby County 54W 27D 36L
Christiansen says he and the players are feeling no pressure. Like Pennington, doesn’t feel there is a major issue with style/tactics.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) October 30, 2017
TC on avoiding dropping out of play-off zone: “Tomorrow is game 15. If we’re not in POs at the end of the season, then we talk about it”— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) October 30, 2017
Leeds United will attempt to pick themselves up after another home loss tonight after losing to Yorkshire rivals Sheffield United last Friday night. The club will hope to pick up a good result against the visitors from the East Midlands with an extra day of rest and preparation, and while some of the fans may disagree, Thomas Christiansen didn’t seem especially worried during his press conference. He dismissed questions about needing to change tactics or if Leeds were still going to be in the playoff positions after tonight’s match, instead focusing on where Leeds will be after 46 matches, not 15 matches.
And while Christiansen has a point that this league is a marathon, not a sprint, the differences between the first seven league matches and the last seven league matches are quite stark. Leeds picked up 17 of a possible 21 points in the first seven matches, but have only picked up 6 of a possible 21 points since. The match against Derby County, then, provides as good an opportunity to reboot as any other and get back to winning ways.
Derby County enter the match having won three straight and are undefeated in six straight matches. Their last loss was a 1-4 decision on 16 September away at Bristol City, the same team that Leeds beat 3-0 ten days ago. Derby have gone from 14th in the table up to 7th place, and they are looking to get into the playoff spots and maybe make a run towards automatic promotion themselves.
Asked Christiansen what needs to change to get back to consistent results: “Score the first goal.”— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) October 30, 2017
Leeds will be looking for a good response from their attacking players, as they have struggled to come from behind this season. If Leeds are to get the first goal, as Christiansen has said, they’ll need Pierre-Michel Lasogga to be at his best. Lasogga, and the team, seemed to struggle against Reading FC and Sheffield United, both teams that play the trendy three-at-the-back formation. Derby has used a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 this season, so at least Lasogga won’t have to fight off three central defenders to get to the ball this match.
It would be surprising, but not completely out of character, for Christiansen to turn to Kemar Roofe to start this match at the striker position. Christiansen did turn to Roofe to lead the line against Cardiff City in the last mid-week Championship match, and after the rather sluggish performance from the whole team against Sheffield United, he might look to rotate a few positions to freshen up the squad. Jay-Roy Grot has only started in Cup matches, and usually only gotten a couple minutes at the end of a match to run around a bit and annoy fans, and Pawel Cibicki has only appeared in the League Cup, so don’t expect either of them to start either.
At winger, fans seem to want Stuart Dallas to start on the left, and with the problems that the full-backs have had dealing with pressure coming from the wide areas, it might be best to start Dallas, as he is the best Leeds winger at tracking back to help out on defence. On the right wing, if Gjanni Alisoki doesn’t start, maybe Hadi Sacko gets a run out? If Lasogga starts up top, expect Roofe to start on the right if Alisoki is rested.
The attacking midfielder position should be Samu Saiz’s for the rest of the season, but if he is rested, then expect Pablo Hernandez to start, although he didn’t have the best match against Sheffield United. Of course, without Hernandez in the side, the team really, really struggled at set pieces, so maybe he gets the start while Saiz gets a rest.
Central midfield is honestly the easiest position to predict, with Ronaldo Vieira and Eunan O’Kane almost guaranteed to get the starts. Mateusz Klich hasn’t really played that well when given the chance, and Vieira played a critical role in the team winning away at Bristol City. Kalvin Phillips will sit after collecting his fifth yellow card against Sheffield United.
Cooper misses tomorrow's game. Jansson expected to replace him. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) October 30, 2017
On defence, with Liam Cooper’s injury confirmed, he will miss the tonight’s match, meaning that Everton loanee Matthew Pennington will likely alonside Pontus Jansson at centreback. Jansson has been hard on himself, although he’s not entirely justified, and while Pennington started well, he looked out of place against Sheffield United last Friday. As for the fullbacks, expect Luke Ayling to again play at rightback and Vurnon Anita get the start at leftback, as Cameron Borthwick-Jackson has been injured and Gaetano Berardi is still suspended for his daft, yet amusing, red card against Bristol City.
It’s Andy Lonergan’s net for the foreseeable future, with the Felix Wiedwald experience seeming to come to an end. Wiedwald has been dispatched to Cup duty, and the club may look to bring in a new goalkeeper in the January transfer window if Christiansen has completely lost faith in the German, as Lonergan was only brought in to be a backup. Unless Wiedwald has suddenly changed Christiansen’s mind, Lonergan will get the start.
Despite, or maybe because of, Christiansen’s claim that the team isn’t feeling pressure, they have to be feeling pressure at this point to pick up points and get a good result. Christiansen is really good at saying one thing in a press conference and doing the exact opposite, at it was just last week that he was calling the match against Sheffield United a “must-win” match. Derby County have had a really nice run of form, but that just means they’re due for a loss, right? 3-1 Leeds United. Feast or famine with this squad.
Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Lonergan; Ayling, Pennington, Jansson, Anita; O’Kane, Vieira; Dallas, Saiz, Alioski; Roofe
Derby County: (4-2-3-1) Carson; Wisdom, Keogh, Davies, Forsyth; Huddlestone, Ledley; Johnson, Vydra, Lawrence; Nugent