The importance of tomorrow’s fixture is tough to describe: the idea of not winning against Norwich leaves me feeling nauseous, a promising season coming to a premature end at Elland Road sounds awful. However, the task is a somewhat difficult one as Norwich come into the fixture on good form. After they were mathematically unable to obtain a playoff place themselves, the pressure dispersed and since then they have shown the quality they possess.
Norwich currently sit 8th and have beaten the likes of Brighton, Preston and Reading in recent weeks. Leeds will need to be fully focused if they want to beat the Canaries, and focus is not something they’ve had of late.
A victory for the Whites is reliant on three main factors:
1. Win the midfield battle
In the last few weeks, the players in the middle of the park have really struggled to win their battles, and this has ultimately cost Leeds the points. Whoever starts in the centre of midfield needs to take control early and dictate the play. If the lads can do that, I think we stand a good chance of winning, but that’s a big if.
I personally believe we need to see O’Kane return to XI. If reports are correct, Bridcutt is still set to miss the game, so we lack experience in the midfield to add a sense of calm in a very stressful setting for the players.
2. Have an attacking mindset
Norwich’s record in front of goal has been very good this season. However, whilst they have been banging in the goals in one end they have also been conceding a lot in the other end. Leeds need to win the game, and you win games by scoring goals. Leeds need to start fast and utilise the pace within the team and feed Chris Wood. If we can score early, it will not just settle the players but also settle the fans.
We are the home side: approach the game in that mentality. Norwich are visitors in our backyard and we’re not going to give them time to even take a breath.
3. Just give everything!!
I remember my good friend Sean Ryan saying ‘all we expect from any player lucky enough to wear the white shirt is that they give everything for it.’ Tomorrow afternoon, if those players who wear that crest leave everything on that pitch then - come win, lose or draw - we will all be proud of this wonderful Leeds United team.
Other Notable Fixtures
Fulham (6th) vs Brentford (9th)
Ipswich (16th) vs Sheffield Wednesday (5th)
Reading (4th) vs Wigan (23)
Leeds don’t have a bad record against Norwich; the Whites have recorded 4 wins 3 draws and 3 losses in the previous 10 times the sides have met. Also within those 10 fixtures, Norwich have only beaten Leeds once at Elland Road: a 2-0 victory in April 2014.
Leeds United vs. Norwich City
EFL Championship fixture
Elland Road, Leeds
LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds, International Listings
Saturday, April 29th, 2017
7:00am PT / 10:00am ET / 3:00pm BT
Leeds United’s predicted starting XI
Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor, O’Kane, Vieira, Dallas, Hernandez, Roofe, Wood
Norwich's predicted starting XI
Ruddy, Pinto, Martin, Bennett, Dijk, Howson, Dorrans, Naismith, Pritchard, Murphy, Jerome
2-1 Leeds. Norwich haven’t got anything to play for, yet in the last few weeks with the pressure off they have looked formidable. However, I think with a sell-out crowd behind them, Leeds will win. The 12th man will ensure Leeds over the line in a difficult fixture and give Leeds a chance in making the playoffs. Wood and Roofe to score for Leeds.