By Josh Grainger
Leeds travel to the south coast in a somewhat similar fashion to last season. On the back of a league cup fixture, on a Friday night. Last season however, Leeds were dumped out by the competition in the third round by ‘that lot over the Pennines’, unlike this season where Leeds were drawn out the hat to face Chelsea in the quarter finals.
After coasting past premier league side Southampton with a 3-0 victory on Tuesday night, confidence is bound to be high amongst the Leeds squad. The fitness of the side will be stretched to the limits again, having only had 2 days rest from the last fixture, whilst Brighton have had 6 days.
Brighton themselves have started this season fairly averagely, and sit a place above the Whites in the league table, with only goal difference separating the two sides. The Seagulls are without a win in 7 games, having drawn and lost three times, since they beat Millwall at the Den, on September 22nd. This recent run of form will cast hope amongst the Leeds fans, sensing that Brighton may be lacking confidence. Brighton have had a turbulent home form so far this season, impressive results came with a 5-1 victory over Barnsley, and a 3-0 pasting of Sheffield Wednesday, however since then have also lost on their own patch to Birmingham and Middlesbrough.
Brighton have no real injury worries for the match tonight, Spanish winger, Vicente is still struggling with thigh problem, and it is unsure whether the internationally capped midfielder will be fit for the squad tonight. Brighton may field the same team that gained a point at Blackpool last time out. Former Man Utd stopper, Thomas Kuzczack will start in goal for the Seagulls, meaning former Whites keeper Casper Ankergren will be denied an appearance against his former club. Brighton’s back four is expected to be made up of: Bruno Saltor, the captain Gordon Greer, Adam El-Abd, and former England defender, Wayne Bridge. Whilst this back five contains a fair amount of quality, Brighton’s defence certainly aren’t the full package yet, despite only shipping in 9 goals this season. Brighton are likely to field a three man midfield, consisting of Dean Hammond, Andrew Crofts and Liam Bridcutt, whilst a three man strike force likely to contain Leeds transfer target, Craig Mackail-Smith, Ashley Barnes and Will Buckley, are capable of scoring goals on their day.
Again the team that Neil Warnock selects is anyone’s guess; Paddy Kenny is expected to return in goal after Jamie Ashdown played in the midweek victory over Southampton. The back four is likely to be Sam Byram, Jason Pearce, Tom Lees and Captain Lee Peltier. David Norris may come back into the side after being rested midweek; however Rodolph Austin and Michael Brown will expect to keep their places after impressing in the victory over the Saints. Michael Tonge is favourite to start on the left wing; however who plays on the other flank is still a mystery. Luke Varney impressed despite an awful miss against Southampton, he may play out wide, despite playing up front midweek. Aidy White also impressed and may start out wide. El-Hadji Diouf will start for the Whites, despite rumours in the media this week suggesting he is set to leave Leeds in January. Luciano Becchio is expected to be recalled to the starting line-up, after scoring a late penalty against Southampton. Ross McCormack is edging closer to a return to the squad however won’t be fit to play this week, neither will Davide Somma who is still someway away from a first team return.
When these two sides met last season Brighton edged the bragging rights, beating Leeds 2-1 at Elland Road, after a 3-3 draw at the Amex. Brighton are the favourites tonight, however it wouldn’t surprise me if Leeds came away with all three points. On the betting front, my tip of the day would be 2-1 Leeds with Luciano Becchio grabbing the first goal, 60-1 with Paddy Power.
The game will be screened live on Sky Sports 1, coverage starting at 19:30.
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