Date: 19 September 2017
Time: 19.45 BST, 14.45 EDT
Venue: Turf Moor, Burnley
Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)
Streaming: ESPN3, WatchESPN.com
All-time Record: Leeds United v Burnley 30W 11D 18L
Leeds United look to extend their League Cup run (or Carabao Cup or Milk Cup or Terrible Sponsor Cup or whatever it’s called these days) past the third round tonight as they travel to Lancashire to take on Burnley and a couple old friends. Leeds last played at Turf Moor in April of 2016, losing 1-0. Leeds last beat Burnley in 2013, and haven’t won at Turf Moor since 2011.
Leeds lost both a striker and a left back to Burnley in the summer transfer window, although in the case of Charlie Taylor, it wasn’t so much of a “transfer” as a contract situation that was about as awful as you can get in professional football, where a player wants to leave so badly that he is willing to basically burn all of his bridges and make a fool out of himself and the club in order to seal a move away. Taylor, infamously, reportedly refused to play against Wigan at the end of last season, forever making enemies of the fans that had loved and supported him for years.
Chris Wood, on the other hand, wanted to move on to the Premier League and was the subject of a large bid from Burnley, and the new ownership and management felt it was best to heed his wishes and let him move on, in what felt like a breath of fresh air after years of very public disputes that did more harm than good in regards to player investment and recruitment. The Taylor situation could have been avoided months previously, but thank god that’s in the past now.
Liverpool-Burnley-1:1. Possession 71%-29% Shots 35-5 Draw??????????— Oleg1960 (@Old_Old_Ben) September 16, 2017
As for the football that will be played at Turf Moor, Burnley aren’t going to win any style awards for playing football, but they can punch above their weight, as the result on the weekend of their draw against Liverpool showed, where they were dominated in possession and shots, but were able to do just enough to split the points.
Even though Leeds is a Championship side, don’t expect the strategy to change very much. This team is built to be difficult to break down and to be difficult to play against, with very little in the way of creativity or free-flowing football on display. It might be a bit harsh to describe Sean Dyche as a younger Sam Allardyce, but that’s the kind of football that’s going to be on display tonight.
Leeds, on the other hand, look to put the ball on the floor and pass it around, to let the creative players like Pablo Hernandez and Samuel Saiz boss the midfield with the ball at their feet. However, this being a Cup match, they probably won’t play, despite the claim by Christiansen that they are looking to advance in the Cup. He might want to advance, but he’s shown that he’s willing to give the fringe players the start in Cup matches, and that’s really for the best.
Up top, Jay-Roy Grot has a chance to start at striker, although Pawel Cibicki and Kemar Roofe could also make good claims to get the start. Roofe, you will remember, bagged a hat-trick last time out in the League Cup against Newport County and Cibicki just arrived at the club after a high-profile move from Malmo FF, Pontus Jansson’s old club and TIAT’s official Swedish club. While Cibicki and Roofe may start anyway, look for Grot to get the nod up top.
In the attacking midfield positions, look for Kemar Roofe, Stuart Dallas, and Pawel Cibicki to start, with Dallas and Cibicki on the wings, with Roofe playing off the lone striker in a number 10 role. Not really sure that the number 10 is an ideal position for Roofe, but given his performance last time out in the Cup, and Christiansen’s penchant for moving players around to shoe-horn his best XI out there, it would not be surprising to see Roofe and Grot both start, with Roofe playing “behind” Grot, although that might change as the match goes on.
Mateusz Klich and Ronaldo Vieira will likely get the nod in the central midfield, with Christiansen again liking to stick with his “pairs” in the midfield. Vieira and Klich are one pair, and Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips the other rotating pair. Vieira and Klich may not be as good at distributing the ball as O’Kane is, but both of them are a little sharper in the tackle, and that might come in handy against Burnley.
The defence has to be the one position that is most up in the air and will have the most intrigue as to who will start the match, given that captain Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson are both out. Matthew Pennington, on loan from Everton, is supposedly reaching full-fitness, and Christiansen seemed to hint that he might be available for this match. Conor Shaughnessy will get the start as one half of the starting pair in central defence, with either Pennington or Cameron Borthwick-Jackson getting the other start.
If Pennington does get the nod at centre back, look for Borthwick-Jackson to get the start at left-back with Gaetano Berardi getting the start at right back. Vurnon Anita might be drafted into the lineup if Pennington can’t go at one of the fullback positions.
As for keeper, Andy Lonergan might make his return to the Leeds line-up against Burnley, with Felix Wiedwald likely rested. Wiedwald has made the goalkeeper position his at Leeds and is the unquestioned starter, but it would be good to get Lonergan some time between the sticks.
2-1 Leeds United. The fringe first team players at Leeds right now are almost as good as the starters, and if the defence is sorted, look for them to pull off an “upset” in a competition that Dyche doesn’t really seem to bothered about.
Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Lonergan; Berardi, Pennington, Shaughnessy, Borthwick-Jackson; Vieira, Klich; Dallas, Roofe, Cibicki; Grot
Burnley: (4-4-2) Pope; Taylor, Long, Tarkowski, Bardsley; Barnes, Cork, Westwood, Brady; Wood, Walters