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Match Preview: Birmingham City v Leeds United

Leeds look to continue winning streak against struggling Blues

Birmingham City v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Match: Birmingham City v Leeds United

Date: 30 December 2017

Time: 15.00 GMT, 10:00 EST

Venue: St. Andrews, Birmingham

Television: None.

Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)

Streaming: LUTV outside of the UK and Ireland.

All-time Record: Leeds United v Birmingham City 39W 26D 38L

Reverse Fixture: Leeds United 2-0 Birmingham City

Leeds United take to the road again tomorrow to take on struggling Birmingham City. The Blues have had another season to forget this season, as they’ve already sacked Harry Redknapp after he brought in almost an entirely new starting XI to the club in the summer, with little to show for it except more poor results. Manager Steve Cotterill sounded like a manager who is dusting off his CV when asked about the state of the team after their last match, and given that the team is in last place in the table, one could hardly blame him.

Leeds won the reverse fixture 2-0, although the club was second best for much of the match. This was back in the heady days of early September, and the win against Birmingham City sent Leeds top of the table, promoting about 1000 “Is Leeds United Back?” think pieces to be written in the national press, all of which were binned after the Millwall loss and the slide down the table that followed.

Leeds have the opportunity to put some more distance between them and the teams trailing them, hoping to creep back into the playoff places with a victory against Birmingham. The Blues, from all appearances, look to be a club in disarray and should be less of a challenge than they were back in September. While Leeds will feel relieved after coming from behind to win for the first time in over a year against Burton last time out, a good solid win against a team that is struggling is not too much to expect.

Pierre-Michel Lasogga could be in for a recall to the starting line-up against Birmingham after making a pair of substitute appearances, although a start for Kemar Roofe wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Honestly, trying to predict when or if Thomas Christiansen rotates his players is sort of a fool’s errand, but I would expect Lasogga to get at least one start between this match and New Year’s Day.

In the attacking midfield, Samu Saiz should be good to go after being held out of the past two matches, meaning that one of Gjanni Alioski, Pablo Hernandez, or Pawel Cibicki will sit. Pablo Hernandez probably needs a rest, but he’s been brilliant, so perhaps Alisoki will get a rest? Who knows. Stuart Dallas is still out with injury, so that’s the only thing we know for sure.

Ronaldo Vieira might not be available after receiving a horror tackle against Burton Albion, so expect Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips to start in the middle of the pitch. The pair held down the central midfield for much of the early part of the season, so even if Vieira can’t play, it’s not the end of the world.

In defence, you would imagine that Luke Ayling would get a day off at some point this season, but then again, you would have thought that would might have come against Burton Albion. Maybe tomorrow? Don’t bet on it. Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper will be the centre backs and Gaetano Berardi will play at left back. This defensive combo seems to be the preferred one at the club right now, and TC looks unlikely to change anything while the club’s looked strong at the back, especially with all of the changes early in the season.

In goal, we’ve got Wiedlwald, Felix Wiedwald, I just don’t think you understand. He misses crosses he should catch, and catches shots he shouldn’t be able to. The guy makes my blood pressure go up when a cross goes into the box, but there aren’t many other Championship goalkeepers I want in net when the opposition gets a clean shot on goal. Take the good with the bad, I guess.

Predicted Score:

On paper, this should be an easy game for Leeds. However, football isn’t played on paper, to use a cliche, and last time around, Leeds felt lucky to grab three points and a clean sheet at home against the Blues. I’d like to think that the way that the season has gone for Birmingham that they’d pack it in as soon as they get behind, but who knows. Road games in December are always tricky, and is it too much to expect another clean sheet? 3-1 Leeds United.

Predicted Lineup:

Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Wiedwald; Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Berardi; O’Kane, Phillips; Hernandez, Saiz, Alioski; Roofe

Birmingham City: (4-2-3-1) Stockdale; Colin, Dean, Morrison, Grounds; Kieftenbeld, N’Doye; Boga, Gardner, Jota; Jutkiewicz