Date: 30 January 2018
Time: 19.45 GMT, 2.45 PM EST
Venue: KCOM Stadium
Radio: BBC Radio Leeds (not available online)
All-time Record: Leeds United v Hull City 22W 11D 14L
Reverse Fixture: Leeds United 1 - 0 Hull City
Leeds United travel to Hull to take on another Yorkshire rival away from home. And while Hull City were just relegated from the Premier League last season, they have had a relatively rough ride this season in the Championship, as they find themselves out of the relegation zone on only goal difference with Sunderland on 25 points. Hull is on their second manager of the season, having sacked Leonid Slutsky 19 games into the season and in 20th place. The last nine matches, however, have not been any kinder to Hull, as they are winless in their last seven, including a loss at Elland Road to Leeds on 23 December. On the positive side, Hull did beat Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup last Saturday, so perhaps they hope to carry that luck into today’s match.
Leeds will be missing four regularly starting first-team players through suspension against Hull, with Eunan O’Kane, Samu Saiz, and captain Liam Cooper all missing due to red cards suffered in the past three weeks, and Kalvin Phillips is banned due to yellow card accumulation. New signing Adam Forshaw, who recently joined from Middlesbrough, should get the start in midfield, as he has recovered from a slight injury that he picked up while at Hull.
Adam Forshaw been speaking ahead of his debut tomorrow. Thinks Leeds still have a great chance of making the play-offs but said the Hull game is must-win. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 29, 2018
In addition to saying that he should be good to go against Hull today, Forshaw also mentioned in yesterday’s press conference that he thought that today’s match against Hull is a must-win if Leeds are to challenge for the playoffs. And he’s not wrong. Leeds have let far too many points slip through their fingers since Boxing Day, and for a team that fancies itself a promotion contender, matches against Hull represent vital chances to pick up all three points. Leeds might only be five points out of the playoffs, but they are in 9th place and have a difficult stretch of games coming up, with matches in February against Cardiff City, Sheffield United, Bristol City and Derby County, all teams that are above Leeds in the table. If Leeds are going to have a shot to catch up with Fulham, they’re going to need to pick up three points tonight.
The biggest question facing the club right now is at striker. Will the real Pierre-Michel Lasogga please stand up? He was the driving factor behind the comeback against Millwall that saw 10 man Leeds score three goals in the second half to take the lead, only to see the match cruelly slip through their fingers in stoppage time. If that Lasogga shows up again, then Leeds have a good chance of not only picking up all three points against Hull, but having a good set of results in February. If the Lasogga that showed up in the loss at Brentford shows up? Well, then fans might want to plan their train trips around the Championship for another season.
Kemar Roofe seemed to partner Lasogga up front in more of a 4-4-2 formation against Millwall, and while the club hasn’t really used that formation that much this season, it might bring out the best in the club in the absence of Samu Saiz. The club scored three goals after looking fairly tame the previous few weeks, and both Roofe and Lasogga seemed to play better with a partner up top. Roofe can do the running and tracking back, and Lasogga can latch onto through balls and crosses to put the opposing team under pressure.
Jarrod Bowen and Ezgjan Alioski feature in our head to head as #LUFC take on @HullCity on Tuesday night. Can Leeds repeat the victory they got in the reverse fixture? #EFL #MOT pic.twitter.com/RGnUQY2BTE— StatZone (@StatZoneSports) January 28, 2018
On the wing, Gjanni Alioski and Pablo Hernandez look set to get the starts. Stuart Dallas would normally be a good shout to start after coming back from injury, but with the club perhaps not using a number 10 attacking midfielder, Hernandez has to fit in somewhere on the pitch. Hernandez is easily the most creative player that Leeds have when Saiz is out, and his dead-ball delivery is sorely missed when he’s not on the pitch.
In central midfield, with Phillips and O’Kane both out, Ronaldo Vieira will likely partner Forshaw in the middle of the pitch. Matuesz Klich has left the club and gone back to the Netherlands, so the only other option would be Vurnon Anita, who has only played once in the midfield all season, and Conor Shaughnessy, who really seems to belong at central defence.
Speaking of defence, the ban of captain Liam Cooper means that Matthew Pennington will have a chance to step up in his absence. He was brought in with an eye to get the starting position, but after getting injured on his debut, he’s never really had a chance to make a claim to get a starting spot. Well, he’s got his chance now. Partnering him in central defence will be Pontus Jansson. Gaetano Berardi and Laurens De Bock will be the fullbacks, with the Belgian getting another chance to impress after his debut against Millwall.
Felix Wiedwald will get the start at goalkeeper, for better or worse, and with the news that Sunderland might be interested in Andy Lonergan, this might be the last time we’ll see Lonergan sit on the bench for Leeds this time around. If he stays or goes won’t really make much of a difference, because barring injury, he will likely not see the pitch again for Leeds since the club is out of cup competitions.
Leeds will be well rested after a week in the sun in Spain, while Hull slogged through a match against Forest over the weekend. Leeds are desperate for points, and while the reverse fixture, despite the scoreline, went largely against Leeds, Hull don’t seem to have the quality to make teams pay for poor play. If the team doesn’t wake up and get a result here, then no amount of spending before the January transfer window closes will make a difference. Win this match, and the club has a chance. Leeds to win 2-0 and do enough to carry some momentum into February.
Leeds United: (4-4-2) Wiedlwad; Berardi, Jansson, Pennington, De Bock; Hernandez, Forshaw, Vieira, Alioski; Roofe, Lasogga.
Hull City: (4-2-3-1) McGregor; Aina, Dawson, Hector, Tomori; Meyler, Larsson; Bowen, Evandro, Grosicki; Campbell