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Match Preview: Leeds United v Preston North End

Leeds look to get back to winning ways against fellow promotion chasers.

Preston North End v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship - Deepdale Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Match: Leeds United v Preston North End

Date: 26th December 2019

Time: 17.15 GMT, 12.15 ET, 10.15 PST.

Venue: Elland Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England

TV Coverage: Sky Sports Football

Streaming: iFollow, LUTV (outside the UK).

Boxing Day football at Elland Road, as Leeds face 5th place Preston North End, looking for what would be a first win in three matches following the draw against Cardiff City, and the defeat against Fulham which ended a run of 11 games without defeat.

Preston have taken seven points from their last three matches - following on from a run of three consecutive defeats which saw them fall away from the top two in the Championship.

Leeds will be without their most influential playmaker Pablo Hernandez who will be out for around a month with a Hamstring injury picked up in the opening minute against Fulham. Leeds will have options in midfield with Tyler Roberts and Jamie Shackleton having returned to fitness.

Tyler Roberts would be the most like for like replacement for Hernandez as the de facto number 10, but I would be surprised if Marcelo Bielsa threw either him or Shackleton straight into the starting line-up. I instead expect Hernandez to be replaced by North Macedonia international Ezgjan Alioski, with him playing left-back and Stuart Dallas moving into central midfield, freeing Mateusz Klich up to play in the more attacking role.

As Preston are very likely to play one up front, probably in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Leeds are unlikely to make any other changes and will start in their 4-1-4-1 formation.

Preston have some problems at full-back, with both Joe Rafferty and Darnell Fisher suspended for the match. Since the 1-1 draw between the sides at Deepdale in October Preston have struggled for consistency, with five wins, one draw, and four defeats.

Preston have dangerous players in attacking areas, Sean Maguire, Tom Barkhuizen, and Alan Browne are likely to play off one of Jayden Stockley or Dave Nugent, I would be more worried about Stockley of the two. Top scorer Daniel Johnson and forward Louis Moult are out injured.

Ben Pearson in central midfield is a good player if he can keep himself under control, he has six yellow cards this season in the league and has been lucky to remain on the pitch on a couple of occasions. Pearson has already been sent off against Leeds twice in August 2017 and April 2019.

The centre-back pairing of former Leeds man Paul Huntington and Patrick Bauer are solid but can definitely be got at if Leeds play well.

Expected Line-ups

Leeds (4-1-4-1): Casilla; Ayling, White, Cooper, Alioski; Phillips; Costa, Klich, Dallas, Harrison; Bamford.

Preston (4-2-3-1): Rudd; Clarke, Huntington, Bauer, Hughes; Gallagher, Pearson; Maguire, Browne, Barkhuizen; Stockley.

Historical context doesn’t mean a lot (apart from when Leeds play in London), but Leeds have won their last three Boxing Day fixtures, and Preston have not scored in their last four League visits to Elland Road.

Leeds need to bounce back with a result here, with tough trips to Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion coming up, and I think they will manage it. I am going to go for a 2-0 win, Bamford with a brace.

What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.