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Match Preview: Leeds United travel to London to take on QPR

Leeds hope to get better result than they did in their previous trips to London this season

Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images

Match: Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United

Date: 9 December 2017

Time: 15.00 GMT, 10.00 EST

Venue: Loftus Road

Television: None.

Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)

Streaming: in the United States, check your local EFL rights holder for more information. We will also post a “How To Watch” post about two hours before the match as well.

All-time Record: Leeds United v QPR 20W 16D 18L

After winning two out of three matches in a week, Leeds United took on fellow playoff hopefuls Aston Villa last Friday. And while Leeds dominated much of the first half, they failed to put the match away and drew 1-1 with Aston Villa after the depth of Villa shone through as former Nottingham Forest captain Henri Lansbury came on as a substitute and scored a goal to draw the sides level.

Leeds United now travel to West London, hoping that the club is able to get a better result at Loftus Road than they did down the road at Griffin Park, before the most recent international break. Leeds lost 3-1 to Brentford in what was one of the worst performances of the season for Leeds, and what had to be one of the worst goalkeeping performances that most people have seen turned in by Andy Lonergan.

Leeds manager Thomas Christiansen has, as usual, remained somewhat coy about who will be available for the trip, with Pierre-Michel Lasogga still suffering from a mystery illness and the availability of Stuart Dallas, Pablo Hernandez, and Eunan O’Kane all in doubt after taking various knocks over the past few weeks.

QPR have struggled somewhat this season, and while the club has spent a few years in the Premier League much more recently than Leeds, the club is certainly not currently in the best shape. And while QPR is currently winless in their past five matches, they did beat both Sheffield United and Wolverhampton two weeks in a row at home back in October, so Leeds should definitely make sure to take this match, and this team , seriously.

Of all of the “fitness” issues that TC has hinted at, the one that Lasogga is suffering from seems to be the most questionable. He’s missed every match since the last trip to West London after being hauled off against Brentford at half-time. And in his absence, apart from the loss at Wolves, the club has looked better than it did while Lasogga was in the lineup. Caleb Ekuban and Kemar Roofe have split the striker duties while Lasogga has been out of the side, with Ekuban getting the past two starts after Roofe started against Wolves and Middlesbrough. Given the success the team had against Barnsley FC and Aston Villa (at least for the first half), expect to see Caleb Ekuban start the match with Roofe on the bench.

As for the attacking trio behind Ekuban, TC finally seems to have found a combination that works and unlike in past weeks, he’s not rotating unless he’s forced to by injury. Samu Saiz will line up at the attacking midfield, number 10 position, with Gjanni Alioski on the right and Pablo Hernandez on the left. Hernandez is a question after leaving the match against Villa with what appeared to be a muscle problem, but unless Hernandez can’t go at all, expect him to once again start, especially given the understanding and interplay that all three of them see to have together. If he can’t go, if Dallas is fit, expect him to play, if both aren’t fit, Kemar Roofe would be forced to play on the wing again.

In central midfield, Eunan O’Kane’s fitness shouldn’t matter, as Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips have proven to be the best two central midfielders at the club right now. At the beginning of the season, Phillips and O’Kane got the nod almost every week, but once Vieira has been introduced into the lineup, it’s been only through suspension that he’s been removed from it. Phillips, while he’s not been as consistent as one might like, has still produced a few moments of wonder every now and again.

On defence, again it seems that consistency has helped the team regain its confidence. Luke Ayling hasn’t been himself lately, but given that he’s literally played almost every single minute for the club this season, minus some time off in the League Cup, he’s excused for not getting a chance to rest. Gaetano Berardi hasn’t been stellar, but he’s been steady at left back, and at this point, that’s all you can really ask for at that position.

In central defence, Leeds will likely start Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper again. The two of them are starting to look better every week, even if they didn’t look great on the play that lead to the Villa equalizer in last week’s match. The partnership between the two of them is starting to pay off, as while Cooper doesn’t have the physical talents that Jansson has, he’s been steady and reliable, and sometimes, that’s all you need in a centreback. Jansson even scored his first goal this season against Villa, and Cooper was a few inches offside for what would have been a second goal as well. The “little wizard” that is now coaching the set pieces for Leeds seems to have taken a liking to what the centrebacks can bring in the air.

Felix Wiedwald, for better or worse, seems to have won his job back between the pipes for Leeds. Andy Lonergan played for awhile, and even got the nod after the terrible performance against Brentford, but he’s not the future of the club at keeper, and despite the heart palpitations that crosses bring, his passing out of the back really is key for the club to play the kind of football that TC wants this team to play, and that has resulted in the best performances of the season. Unless the club goes out and grabs a goalkeeper in the January window, Wiedwald gives the club the best chance to win, as much as fans may not like it.

Predicted Score:

QPR has all the feeling of a trap game, with the club coming off two weeks of decent performances, and Leeds haven’t gotten a single point on their previous two trips to London this season. However, TC has this team playing well, and Leeds can’t lose on three straight trips to London this season, right? 2-0 Leeds.

Predicted Lineups:

Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Wiedwald; Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Berardi; Vieira, Phillips; Hernandez, Saiz, Alioski; Ekuban

QPR: (4-4-2) Smithies; Bidwell, Lynch, Robinson, Cousins; Freeman, Scowen, Luongo, Wheeler; Sylla, Washington