By Rob Atkinson
Sometimes, some fairly well-worn phrases have more than the usual resonance. They reek of wisdom and what John Cleese refers to as "the bleedin' obvious". People nod wisely and murmur approvingly to each other, "What else could they do? It's not rocket science." Such a phrase applies this weekend to Leeds United and it goes "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". It neatly says all that needs to be said about the case for giving last week's team, last week's wing-backs formation, another shot at the home of our beloved neighbours Huddersfield Town.
What will actually happen of course is in the lap of Brian McDermott, a manager whose options have recently been opened up by the addition of loan hit-man Dexter Blackstock. Leeds have been after another striker for some time, so naturally they've finally managed to snare one in the aftermath of their most goal-laden performance for many a moon.
Brian is a man who normally plays his cards quite close to his chest when it comes to the make-up of his team - and he has been known to favour a "horses for courses" approach, picking the best team and formation to do the job on any given day. Like the rest of us though, he seems still to be basking in the afterglow of that thrashing of Birmingham, and is quoted as saying that Saturday's team "takes care of itself", so a no-change policy with increased quality on the bench seems almost certain. El Hadji-Diouf should be available for sub duty after his return from compassionate leave, and of course Micky Spillane's mate Dexter Blackstock will be there and hoping for a chance at some stage of the game.
Huddersfield meanwhile are shorn of their top scorer and main threat James Vaughan, who serves the first of a three game ban for his violent conduct red card in last week's defeat at Leicester. Manager Mark Robins is optimistic that his side can cope with what seems on the face of it a significant loss of firepower- Vaughan has scored 9 in 12 starts this term. Martin Paterson, Jon Stead, Duane Holmes and Danny Carr, a quartet of players yet to trouble the score-keepers so far this season, will be competing to fill the vacant forward berth.
Leeds will not have to worry about the impressive Vaughan on Saturday - but they will be up against that familiar chip-on-the-shoulder mentality that so often sees the lesser Yorkshire clubs do embarrassingly well against us. The attitude they clearly took into the Birmingham game, which saw them dictate from the off and never let their opponents settle in the first half, will be needed again at Huddersfield if the team are to overcome the desire of the home side to slay Big Brother from up the road. If Leeds earn the right to play, they will be expected to win - but it's a battle that will inevitably be hard-fought.
On balance, and because I just can't believe for the life of me that Leeds can replicate last week's performance levels, I feel that a draw is the best we can reasonably expect from this derby day. It's unlikely to be a goal-less stalemate -again, two clean sheets on the trot for Leeds would beggar belief - but I think Leeds have enough about them, at the end of a good week, to emerge with credit from a 1-1 or 2-2 draw.
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