Match: Burton Albion v Leeds United
Date: 26 December 2017
Time: 15.00 BST
Venue: Pirelli Stadium, Burton
Television: Sky Sports, BeIN Sports 2 Australia
Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)
Streaming: WatchESPN.com in the US, DAZN in Canada, BeIN Sports Connect in Australia and New Zealand
All-time Record: Leeds United v Burton Albion: 2W 0D 1L
Reverse Fixture: Leeds United 5 - 0 Burton Albion
Leeds United will face off against Burton Albion on Boxing Day, as the Whites look to continue their hot streak in a match that featured the best Leeds performance of the year in the reverse fixture against Burton Albion. Leeds ran riot over the Brewers in Pierre-Michel Lasogga’s debut for the club in the simpler times of September, when Leeds looked as if they were going to win the league walking away.
Burton Albion, meanwhile, have managed to pull themselves out of the relegation zone by winning two straight matches on the road against Bolton Wanderers and Reading FC. The club now sit in 21st place on 20 points for the season, giving fans of the team hope that they will escape the drop for the second straight season.
That's Leeds back in the top six, regardless of what happens between Villa and Sheffield United later. They won't make a DVD of this but that's three straight wins and four wins in five. Making the most of December.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) December 23, 2017
Meanwhile, after the victory over Burton, Leeds have come apart and put themselves back together again, going on a wretched run of form that saw them lose seven out of nine games, only to right the ship once again, having won five games out of the last seven, with one draw against promotion rivals Aston Villa and a loss away to Championship favorites Wolverhampton.
The biggest story, from a Leeds perspective, is the potential return of Pierre-Michel Lasogga to the starting lineup. Lasogga hasn’t started a match since early November, the loss to Brentford at Griffin Park, when he was hauled off at half-time after a bad miss and a lackadaisical effort from the big German. Caleb Ekuban and Kemar Roofe have appeared up top for the club ever since, but with Ekuban being out injured again, Roofe has been leading the line with some success.
Reckon Cibicki and Lasogga could have some laughs together in the second half of the season #lufc— Ben Machell (@ben_machell) December 23, 2017
Could a return to the starting lineup for Lasogga jump-start his season once again? His debut was remarkable, and after leaving the ground that day, many Leeds fans would have been excused in thinking that they had seen the return of Mark Viduka to Elland Road. Of course, the frustrating performances from Lasogga since that day has lead to many people to understand why Hamburger SV was willing to let him go on loan. Lasogga likely gets the start against Burton Albion and hopefully reminds Leeds fans what they saw the last time he played against the Brewers.
In the attacking midfield, Samu Saiz had a bit of a knock and couldn’t go against Hull City this past Saturday, but he appears to be fit for the match against Burton. Pawel Cibicki has been sitting for most of the season, but he’s come on since appearing against Queens Park Rangers, and a potential return of Lasogga has to have both Cibicki and the manager dreaming of those well-struck crosses coming in from the right hand side of midfield right to the big German’s head. Alioski may once again get the start on the left side of midfield, but he’s rested against Burton, Kemar Roofe may once again get the start, as he also had a fantastic match against Burton the last time out as well.
In the middle of the pitch, assuming that Kalvin Phillips is good to go, the pair of Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira, combined age of 41, will once again be the Whites central midfield. Phillips may be rested, after coming off at half-time against Hull City with a slight knock, and if so, Thomas Christiansen will likely turn to Eunan O’Kane to start in his stead. Such is the depth of Leeds this season that a player with the quality of O’Kane can be counted on to provide cover. It’s a good feeling, isn’t it?
One year ago I realised the passion in this club, and it just getting bigger and bigger! All of us together! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Bg7GXedmDD— Pontus Jansson (@PJansson5) December 23, 2017
In defence, Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson should once again pair in the centre. Rumours of Premier League clubs sniffing around Jansson might give Leeds fans a bit of panic, but seeing as how Jansson is tied up with a five-year contract and seems to love the fans at Leeds, a January transfer is unlikely, especially for a team that is chasing promotion. As for the fullback positions, Luke Ayling needs a break in the worst way, and the Boxing Day fixture against Burton Albion should bean opportunity for him to get a break, with Vurnon Anita available to play at left-back, letting Gaetano Berardi switch to his preferred right back role. Just because it should happen, however, doesn’t mean it will, but Christiansen hasn’t been shy to drop players in need of a rest before.
Against Hull City, Felix Wiedwald had his best match in goal for Leeds, earning a few man-of-the-match honours after saving a number of extremely good early shots and chances, keeping Leeds in the match until Pablo Hernandez made Hull’s Alan McGregor look silly after his goal keeping blunder lead to Leeds United’s only goal on the afternoon.
Hoping for another 5-0 scoreline seems greedy at this point, given all that has happened since the last time the two teams played, but keeping a clean sheet should not be a problem for a Leeds defence that looks like it’s found its feet again after some dreadful performances in October. With a rested Saiz and the return of Lasogga, the team should be firing on all cylinders offensively, at least for a match. 4-0 Leeds.
Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Wieldwald; Berardi, Jansson, Cooper, Anita; Phillips, Vieira; Cibicki, Saiz, Alioski; Lasogga.
Burton Albion: (4-2-3-1) Bywater; Brayford, Turner, Buxton, Flanagan; Naylor, Lund; Dyer, Miller, Scannell; Sordell