Match: Middlesbrough v Leeds United
Date: 26th February 2020
Time: 19.45 GMT, 14.45 ET, 11.45 PST.
Venue: Riverside Stadum, Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire (it’s not really Yorkshire), England
TV Coverage: Sky Sports Football (Red Button), Sky Sports Action
Streaming: iFollow, LUTV (outside the UK).
Leeds United travel to the Riverside Stadium for a game looking to maintain the gap to the promotion chasing pack with a win over Middlesbrough.
#LUFC travel to the Riverside tonight, as we take on Middlesbrough in our latest @SkyBetChamp clash— Leeds United (@LUFC) February 26, 2020
Leeds have won two consecutive matches 1-0 and have performed quite well but the opposite is true for Middlesbrough. Ten matches without a win (eight in the league) has seen the Smoggies fall to just one place above the relegation zone.
Worse for Boro has been the last three matches - which came against the three teams below them. A 2-2 draw with Wigan Athletic (who had 10 men for the last 30 minutes), was followed by consecutive 1-0 defeats at home to Luton Town and away at Barnsley FC. Leading to many Boro fans calling for Jonathan Woodgate to be sacked as manager.
Three points of relegation Can we sack Woodgate off now please? #boro #utb— Ashley Hampson (@AshleyHampson7) February 22, 2020
Leeds will probably be unchanged if everyone is fit. However, there are doubts over the fitness of Kiko Casilla (Hand), and Kalvin Phillips. Phillips appeared to be moving ok after the game against Reading FC, and said to former Arsenal striker Ian Wright on Instagram that it was just “a dead Calf”, so he should be ok.
Kiko would be a straight swap with France youth international Illan Meslier. If Phillips misses out he will be replaced by Ezgjan Alioski. with Ben White playing the “Phillips role” ahead of a back four of Stuart Dallas, Luke Ayling, Liam Cooper, and Alioski.
Woodgate seems to have used almost as many formations as he has played games, in the last two he has played 3-5-2 but they were awful in both games. England U21 centre-back Dael Fry, who has been linked with £20m+ moves to Premier League clubs, is likely to be out for a month and will miss the game. Their other main centre-back, Daniel Ayala, is also out of the game.
“I don’t get the point in chopping at changing formations so much.”@elliottvenis believes Woodgate should have found and stuck with his winning formula by this stage of the season— The Boro Breakdown (@Boro_Breakdown) February 17, 2020
Do you agree with that?
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In their shock win away at West Bromwich Albion, Boro played a deep 4-2-3-1 so I expect to see that against Leeds. I also think the side needs fresher legs and their fans need something to lift them - so I expect youngster Djed Spence to start, Hayden Coulson may also get the nod, particularly if George Friend moves into centre-back.
Middlesbrough (4-2-3-1): Pears; Howson, Moukoudi, Shotton, Friend; Saville, McNair; Spence, Wing, Tavernier; Fletcher.
Leeds (4-1-4-1): Casilla; Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Hernandez, Klich, Harrison; Bamford
All signs point to a Leeds win and, as a Leeds fan, that terrifies me. However, I have to try and ignore my inner pessimist on this one - 2-0 win for Leeds.
What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.