Date: 1 October 2017
Time: 12.15 BST, 7.15 EDT
Venue: Hillsborough, Sheffield
Television: Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports Main Event
Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)
Streaming: WatchESPN.com in the United States, check local listings for EFL rights holders in other countries.
All-time Record: Leeds United v Sheffield Wednesday 38W 24D 31L
Leeds United look to put the worst result of the young season behind them with a victory in a Yorkshire Derby, as the team makes the short trip to Sheffield to take on Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Sunday, 1 October.
Last season, Leeds was able to do a Championship double over their neighbours to the south, as Leeds won 2-0 at Hillsborough and 1-0 at Elland Road. However, despite the bragging rights battle, Leeds was unable to keep up the pace to claim a spot in the playoffs, while Wednesday did make the playoffs for the second straight season, only to lose to the other Yorkshire team in the playoffs, Huddersfield Town.
Leeds responded well to the loss at Millwall by going out and beating Premier League Burnley in the League Cup a few days later, but this match against Wednesday not only has Yorkshire bragging rights attached to it, but both clubs wish to get the foul taste of defeat out of their mouths by winning on Sunday. While Leeds have been flying high this season and been exceeding expectations, Sheffield Wednesday have struggled a small bit under the weight of lofty expectations for them. Wednesday have been tipped as promotion candidates for a couple of seasons now, and with the investment into the club by the ownership, anything less than playoffs will be seen as a giant step backwards.
Birmingham City hadn’t won for eight games.— bet365 (@bet365) September 27, 2017
They hadn’t kept a clean sheet for nine games.
Birmingham 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/O1UONbnBzd
To add to their misery, Wednesday lost their first Steel City Derby in five years after losing last Sunday to Sheffield United at Hillsborough. Following the disappointing result at home, Wednesday traveled to Birmingham only to lose at St Andrews, giving an otherwise underachieving Birmingham City side a rare home victory and plunging Sheffield Wednesday into a mini-crisis.
Facing a team that has lost to their fiercest rivals and then to a relegation contender could go either way for Leeds. If Leeds are able to get up on them early, doom could set in for the Wednesday players, and they could shut down and wait for the inevitable loss. Conversely, if Leeds go down early, as they did against Cardiff, then they could allow Wednesday to believe that this Yorkshire derby would be one to revive their bad run of form. While it’s almost always extremely important to score first in any match, scoring first on Sunday is doubly important given the state of Leeds United’s opponents.
As for the lineup, it appears that Matthew Pennington will get the chance to lineup with Pontus Jansson as the central defensive pair. Pennington has impressed both times he has appeared for Leeds this season, although he has yet to play the full 90 minutes in a match after limping off injured against Bolton Wanderers in the first match of the season and only playing the second half in defence against Cardiff after Liam Cooper was sent off late in the first half.
Playing with Jansson and Pennington should be Luke Ayling and Gaetano Berardi. Ayling was his usual consistently great self against Cardiff and while Berardi didn’t necessarily have the best match against on Tuesday, he still should get a chance to reclaim the left-back position from Vurnon Anita.
In midfield, Eunan O’Kane’s absence was felt greatly by the squad not only because Mateusz Klich didn’t look up to Championship pace, but the team also missed the Irishman’s vision and ability on the ball as well. As long as whatever illness he had will not keep him out again, look for O’Kane to once again partner Kalvin Phillips in central midfield. The pair might not be the best individually, but as a partnership they are worth more than the sum of their parts.
In goal, the talk of Felix Wiedwald being dropped seems a bit silly. He wasn’t at fault for any of the goals that Cardiff scored during the midweek, and while his distribution wasn’t as sharp, the Leeds coaching staff will have to work to find a way to adjust the way Leeds plays against teams that look to prevent Wiedwald from playing as a “sweeper-keeper” and starting the attack from the back.
At striker, Pierre-Michel Lasogga seemed to be held back from playing against Cardiff for this match, as he was fit for the last match. Given that Leeds struggled to put any real pressure on the Cardiff goal during the first half, expect that Lasogga will start against Wednesday this weekend.
The attacking midfield also had a rather baffling exclusion against Cardiff, as Samu Saiz was rested along with Lasogga. Given the result, hopefully that never happens again, as Saiz is the conductor of the Leeds attacking symphony, playing players into scoring positions or simply dribbling with the ball, keeping the opposition defenders honest and having to come out and cover him while creating space for others. Pablo Hernandez had his worst showing of the season against Cardiff, so maybe he’s the one that needs a rest.
On the wings, Kemar Roofe scored again when given the start, and while the goal was scored largely when the result was all said and done, it’s getting harder and harder to justify leaving him on the bench. Gjanni Alioski was invisible for large stretches of the Cardiff match, much like he was against Millwall, and so his place isn’t necessarily guaranteed as well. Stuart Dallas played excellently against Burnley in the League Cup, so he might feature on the wing as well.
If Leeds are serious about being promotion contenders this season, a good result against Sheffield Wednesday will go a long way towards showing their intent. The Championship is a marathon, not a sprint, but dropping points against league leaders Cardiff and promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday would put some undue pressure on the coaching staff at Leeds. Getting a win against Wednesday would help to calm the waters at Elland Road and heap a little more misery on the blue half of the Steel City. Even a draw would be a decent result for Leeds, as Wednesday are looking desperate for wins right now. Keeping pace with the league leaders is important, even if a single result isn’t all that important in a season of 46 games.
Leeds 3-0 Sheffield Wednesday. Leeds get back to winning ways against a Wednesday team that looks a little shell-shocked after a bad loss to Sheffield United last weekend. Look for the pressure to ramp up on Carlos Carvalhal after a third defeat in a row and a second derby loss in as many weeks.
Leeds United: (4-2-3-1) Wiedwald; Ayling, Jansson, Pennington, Berardi; O’Kane, Phillips; Roofe, Saiz, Dallas; Lasogga
Sheffield Wednesday: (4-4-2) Westwood; Hunt, Lees, van Aken, Pudil; Wallace, Bannan, Jones, Reach; Fletcher, Hooper