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Leeds United vs. Cardiff City preview: Familiar faces return to Elland Road

The Whites look to clip the Bluebirds’ wings and re-build their momentum at this vital time in the season.

Cardiff City v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship
A familiar face returns to Elland Road
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Elland Road is once again set to sell out as Cardiff City are the visitors and Leeds will be looking to continue their wonderful home form. The defeat last Sunday against Huddersfield will be in the players’ minds as they look to bounce back after the loss, but a top team does not dwell too long on defeats, especially back in front of their home support.

Leeds need to take the points on Saturday to ensure they are still within touching distance of the top 2. Both Brighton and Newcastle have struggled for consistency in the last few weeks and Leeds need to start to take advantage of that.

The Whites are still without Charlie Taylor, so I expect the back 4 to be unchanged from the side who lost at Huddersfield. Roofe missed the game due to a rib injury, but Garry Monk has confirmed he is fit and Leeds fans will hope to see him at least make the bench on Saturday. Also, I anticipate a few changes from the XI on Sunday - O’Kane may get a start ahead of Vieria and I hope to see both the new lads given a chance to show their quality.

For Leeds to take the points depends on three factors:

Persistence and Quality

Neil Warnock will set up his team to soak up the pressure, the players will have to be patient and use their quality to create the chances. Also, if we can move the ball quickly into the wide areas and let the attacking wingers have a go at the Cardiff full backs, they should have some joy.

Get Hernandez time on the ball

Fans have been rather critical of Pablo Hernandez in recent weeks, but the Spanish wizard needs time on the ball to create his magic and it is the job of the players around him to draw the defenders away from Pablo. The attacking wingers and the full backs need to push forward to lead the Cardiff players away from Hernandez so he can produce the excellence we all saw against Derby.

Cardiff struggle against the top 6

Cardiff’s form against the current top 6 is very poor, with only a single win against Huddersfield in November. People may think this stat is irrelevant, but Cardiff will be aware of this and if Leeds can take control early in the game, hopefully, their futility will reappear in the Cardiff City players minds and they will fold under the pressure.


What we know about Cardiff City

Cardiff have had a poor season and currently lay 17th in the Championship. After a difficult start to the season, Paul Trollope was sacked and replaced by Neil Warnock. Warnock’s experience at this level did lead to an improvement as Cardiff moved out of the relegation zone and looked like they may be on the up. However, the team have somewhat stagnated in recent months and have again struggled for consistent form.

We also welcome back Sol Bamba to Elland Road. After his sudden departure earlier in the season, Sol joined Cardiff just after Warnock took over. Let’s hope it’s a miserable day for the former Whites captain.

Head-to-Head

In the past Cardiff has been a tricky affair for the Whites: Leeds often struggled against the men from South Wales losing 5 and drawing 2 out of the last 10 games. However, Leeds have won the last 3 including a very impressive 2-0 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium in September.

Form

Leeds United: L-W-L-W-L

Leeds are currently struggling for form, losing 3 times on the road in the last 5 games. However, Leeds’ form at home this season has been formidable and they haven’t lost at Elland Road since Newcastle in November.

Cardiff City: W-L-L-W-L

Cardiff’s form mirrors Leeds United’s in a lot of ways. They picked points at home in the last 5, but they have had 3 games within that time against Brighton, Reading and Norwich. As I mentioned earlier, Cardiff do struggle against teams within the top 6 and Leeds will be looking to take advantage of that.

WHAT

Leeds United vs. Cardiff City

EFL Championship fixture

WHERE

Elland Road, Leeds

LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds

WHEN

Saturday, February 11, 2017

07:00am PT / 10:00am ET / 3:00pm BT

WHO

Leeds United predicted starting XI

Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi, Bridcutt, O'Kane,Pedraza,Barrow,Hernandez , Wood

Cardiff predicted starting XI

McGregor, Connolly, Morrison, Bamba, Richards, Harris, Whittingham, Healey,Gunnarsson, Hoilett, Zohore

ODDS

Leeds 21/20

Draw 9/4

Cardiff 11/4

PREDICTION

1-0 Leeds. The form has dipped over the last few weeks and I think that may continue on Saturday against Cardiff. I believe that we will be the better side overall but we will just need to penetrate the Cardiff backline. However, I have faith that Leeds will grab a goal in the 2nd half to take the points. MOT.