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Leeds United will travel to Bramall Lane on Saturday to take on Sheffield United and a lot of eyes will be glued to the game to see how Paul Heckinbottom fares. This is the second-ever stint for the former Barnsley manager and he has quite a task at hand. The Whites are now in 10th spot and a win would get them so much closer to their dream of securing a qualifying spot.
Meanwhile, Sheffield are in 8th place and are in a decent position. But they come into this game after losing quite miserably against Wolverhampton. A lot is at stake here for both clubs and this match will certainly prove to be a cracker!
Goalkeeper Jake Eastwood should start since Simon Moore is currently suspended and there has been no information regarding Jamal Blackman’s fitness yet. Considering how Leeds might be unpredictable with a new manager in charge, Chris Wilder is likely to field a flat midfield five after losing to the Wolves. Ryan Leonard and Mark Duffy are expected to start. Meanwhile, Paul Coutts is sidelined for the rest of the season with a broken leg and Kieron Freeman and David Brooks are also likely to miss out on this one.
More than anything else, Wilder will caution his troops to be extremely wary of Leeds, which might prompt them to play a defensive game initially. However, counter-attacking will be key for the club to capitalise and with the home crowd backing them, they will be hungry for a win.
Gaetano Berardi is unavailable to play this game after picking up two yellow cards against Cardiff. Heckingbottom might turn to Vurnon Anita to act as a makeshift right-back for this match. Liam Cooper will also sit this one out since this is the final game of his three-match suspension. Samu Saiz is out unavailable as well.
As far as tactics go, Heckingbottom could keep it simple yet effective. Based on what we have seen from his time at Barnsley, he might re-introduce the 4-4-2 system with Kemar Roofe playing alongside Pierre-Michel Lasogga up front.
Sheffield United have seen under 2.5 goals in their last 4 home matches against Leeds in all competitions.
The Blades are undefeated in their last 5 home matches against Leeds in all competitions.
These two clubs ended 2017 as promotion hopefuls but have only won once in 2018.
This will mark Paul Heckinbottom’s first game as manager of Leeds.
Leon Clarke has been in splendid form for Sheffield this season and he will be keen on getting his name on the scoresheet against Leeds as well. Meanwhile, Leeds centre-back Matthew Pennington could be tasked with stopping him and that will be quite an interesting battle to watch out for. To be fair, Leeds are without some key defenders but Pennington has been quite impressive so far and Saturday’s game will prove to be a massive test for him.
Given the severity of the situation, both teams will be keen on securing 3 points. However, there will be a new sense of dynamism from Leeds and they will have an upper edge. At the same time, Sheffield will have the home advantage so the match will surely be a close one.
Final Score: Sheffield United 1-2 Leeds United