By Mike Courtney
November was good to Leeds. Nine points out of twelve was a good return that saw us rise into the top six briefly only to fall out again after last Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Blackburn. The hectic December kicks off with a home clash with FA Cup winners Wigan at Elland Road tonight and this will be followed by the visit of Watford on Saturday. Two vital matches where 6 points will see us right in the mix in the run up to Christmas.
Saturday's performance at Ewood Park was not a good one. We just never seemed to get going and created few chances, Pugh's effort in the first half being the best chance we carved out. We were solid enough at the back and kept Jordan Rhodes quiet but we were undone by a set piece in first half injury time which was disappointing to say the least. Paddy Kenny was probably our best player on the day and kept us in touch with some good saves. We have the chance to put that defeat behind us quickly and regain a top six spot. The results last night were not too unkind to us and a win tonight can see us move within 9 points of top spot. Beware the manager-less team though as both Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley recorded vital wins last night having parted company with their respective bosses recently.
Owen Coyle was relieved of his duties at Wigan after only a few months at the helm. They have underachieved this season but the Championship is no easy place to be and it can take teams coming down from the premier league some time to adjust to the hectic schedule. Add to that their European exploits and it's been more or less 2 games a week for them which can take its toll on a squad. They will come to Elland Road with some points to prove and in front of a large crowd they could very well raise their game and come away with a victory. They still have some quality players at the club and should not be in anyway underestimated.
As for Leeds, well the lads will want to show that the Blackburn result was a blip and will be anxious to get back to winning ways in front of the home crowd. You will lose games in this Division, there is no easy fixture and that's why us fans need to accept defeats like the one at Blackburn and not get too annoyed or disheartened when the team lose. Yes it is disappointed, we would love it if they won every match but like I said already, that won't happen in this league and you have to bounce back quickly and tonight is the ideal opportunity to do just that.
BMAC has a few injury concerns. Dexter Blackstock has returned to Forest for a scan and is ruled out for the time being and our player of the season so far, Ross Mac is carrying a slight knock, so our strike force could be curtailed. This would be a worry as it would be hard to see where the goals would come from is RossCo is ruled out. Varney surprisingly started against Blackburn but I expect Matt Smith to get the nod to partner RossCo tonight if our top scorer is passed fit. If Ross is ruled out then it could be a Varney/Smith partnership which doesn't strike me as a potent threat. Tom Lees is also nursing an injury and with Scott Wootton already sidelined his absence would be badly felt. It might mean Peltier having to move into centre back and Sam Byram regaining his spot at right back. If Lees is fit to play I would like to see Byram start anyway as he poses more of a threat going forward than Peltier. Danny Pugh should keep his place ahead of Warnock and the midfield trio will most likely remain the same.
It's vital at this stage of the season, having got ourselves back into the promotion race with our recent good run, to win the home games and though Wigan will be far from a pushover, I do see us having enough quality, providing RossCo is fit, to bounce back with a win and a vital three points in our quest for promotion. If Ross is ruled out well that's a different story. We could still grab the three points but it will be a far more difficult task without our main scoring threat. So its time for the players to stand up, the fans to get behind them and the club to move forward with positivity as we set out on this hectic few weeks which could go a long way to determine where we will be playing football next season.
If we can get through this batch of games and still be in contention at the top of the table come January then the promised transfer kitty from this alleged new investment could see the might Leeds heading back to the big time in 2014. We live in hope.
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