Saturday afternoon, Leeds United travel to Burton Albion’s Pirelli stadium in an all-too-familiar scenario of a must-win game. This time, it’s against a side that are also in a must-win position, but for entirely different reasons. The Brewers are only 4 points clear of the drop zone and 1 point ahead of Birmingham who are sure to improve with their new manager Harry Redknapp.
Blackburn currently occupies the final relegation place (on 44 points) but has recently undergone a recent mini revival. Sandwiched between Blackburn and Birmingham are Nottingham Forest on 45 points. With little to separate the bottom six clubs all battling not to be the ones to join Wigan and Rotherham: it’s game on.
The Brewers have won only 12 games from 43 this season, but despite their nickname, a pub side they are not. They have had some notable victories on their home soil including Norwich, Derby and Sheffield Wednesday and always try to go forward at every opportunity. Their top scorer is 24-year-old Australian International Jackson Irvine with 10 goals.
Leeds however could have put play off doubt to bed some weeks ago had they not lost to Reading and Brentford consecutively. So in this game, I want no doubt at all that Leeds are the team that want to win this the most.
The Pirelli Stadium, although only built in 2005, is 75% terracing, a throw back to the old days. Of the 6990 capacity that will be attending Saturday, 1600 will be Leeds. They will be doing all they can to build an atmosphere, back the lads and see us win.
Whilst a calm head and steady nerves are required, I’d like to see some passion on the pitch as well and especially in attack with snarling faces bearing down on the opposition goal.
I don’t think Pedraza offered that Easter Monday and I’d prefer to see him replaced for this one by either Dallas, Taylor or Doukara (to add some bite – literally). Bridcutt has been off form lately leading to consecutive substitutions, so how about a recall for O’Kane to partner Vieira in midfield? Left side should be Sacko, his pace will be enough to frighten the Burton defence all day long. Roofe, a free role to support Chris Wood on either side. The back four have performed heroics lately and should remain.
If Leeds are to become the hunters then that’s the side I’d pick for this one as Vinnie Jones is not available.
For Leeds, Liam Cooper serves the fourth of a 6 game ban whilst Marco Silvestri is recovering from a recent knee op.
Meanwhile, Burton Goalkeeper John Mclaughlin faces a late fitness test as does Marvin Sordell.
Other notable fixtures
Norwich (8th) vs. Brighton (1st)
Nottingham Forest (21st) vs. Reading (3rd)
Huddersfield (4th) vs. Fulham (6th)
Sheffield Wednesday (5th) vs. Derby County (9th)
(Monday) Newcastle (2nd) vs. Preston North End (10th)
This is only the second time Leeds have played Burton Albion and the first away at the Pirelli Stadium. Leeds won the home tie at Elland Road 2-0.
Leeds have W1 D1 L3
Burton have W2 D1 L2
Burton Albion vs. Leeds United
EFL Championship Fixture
Pirelli Stadium, Burton
LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds, International Listings
Saturday, April 17th, 2017
7:00am PT / 10:00am ET / 3:00pm BT
Leeds United’s predicted starting XI
Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi, O’Kane, Vieira, Sacko, Hernandez, Roofe, Wood
Burton Albion’s predicted starting XI
McLaughlin, Brayford, McFadzean, Turner, Flanagan, Christensen, Murphy, Irvine, Dyer, Akins, Varney
Every game in the championship is a challenge and every result very unpredictable. Take a look at the notable fixtures, none of those will be on my acca. This game is no exception, but if Leeds play with passion and determination, we know there can only be one winner. 2-0 Leeds.