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Sunday, 6th August 2017 Kick-off 16:30
Match Preview: Leeds United v Preston North End - Renaissance or Ruination?
Friday, 7th Apr 2017 17:23 by @LucasMonk_
After two successive defeats away from home at the hands of Reading and Brentford respectively, Leeds United play host to Preston North End tomorrow (3pm) with the intention of securing what would be an invaluable three points.
The task that Leeds United must confront tomorrow afternoon is known to the coaching staff, the players, and every supporter and onlooking observer. To inflict defeat upon Preston North End would be to banish growing trepidation among some sections of Leeds supporters, who are principally concerned that our hopes of attaining a play-off position come the season’s conclusion may perish.
The proximate cause of their burgeoning sense of perturbation is axiomatically the defeats to Reading and Brentford. The Royals conquered United at the Madejski Stadium last Saturday, by virtue of a howitzer from Yann Kermorgant, and when Garry Monk’s side travelled to Griffin Park only this Tuesday, few anticipated a facile victory. And indeed, with good reason; as goals from Romaine Sawyers and Lasse Vibe condemned the Whites to a deserved subduing.
Standing between Leeds and a coveted three points tomorrow will be Preston North End, who presently occupy eighth position and appear to be a coherent and workmanlike side who have most certainly improved upon last season’s consolidatory campaign that followed promotion from League One.
Under the tutelage of Simon Grayson, formerly of Leeds United both as a player and as a manager, Preston are a mere five points behind Sheffield Wednesday in sixth place. In their most recent outing, the Lilywhites gleefully played the role of merciless conquistadors as they comprehensively saw off the challenge of Bristol City, securing a 5-0 victory over Lee Johnson’s charges at Deepdale on Tuesday night.
Although United won the earlier fixture between the sides 4-1 at Deepdale, the visitors will doubtless prove a stern test of United’s capabilities tomorrow, and the onus will be upon Garry Monk to refine his squad stylistically in order to achieve a harmonious equilibrium of attack and defence.
After suffering austere reprimand from the Football Association concerning an alleged stamp committed on Reading’s Reece Oxford, defender Liam Cooper will serve the second match of a six-game ban.
Fleet-footed winger Hadi Sacko, on loan from Sporting Club De Portugal, will undergo a medical examination after missing the match against Brentford with an ankle injury.
Fledgling left-back Tyler Denton remains sidelined with injury, while Ronaldo Vieira, Eunan O’Kane, Kemar Roofe and Alfonso Pedraza are all in contention for recalls.
Preston North End
Midfielder John Welsh, in addition to defenders Tyias Browning and Calum Woods, are all set to miss out through injury.
Right-sided defender Marnick Vermijl remains a doubt, while Jamaican midfielder Daniel Johnson is one of several players vying for recalls.
Leeds United (4-2-3-1) - Green; Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi; Phillips, Bridcutt; Barrow, Hernandez, Dallas; Wood.
Preston North End 4-4-2) - Maxwell; Clarke, Baptiste, Huntington, Cunningham; Barkhuizen, Gallagher, Pearson, McGeady; Robinson, Hugill.
Leeds United (5th, 69 points from 40 matches)
Top Goalscorers: Chris Wood (27), Souleymane Doukara (5), Pablo Hernandez (4).
Most Assists: Pablo Hernandez (8), Kemar Roofe (5), Luke Ayling (3).
Highest Statistical Average Rating: Pontus Jansson (7.56).
Record in 2016-17 (League) -W; 21, D; 6, L; 13.
Goals For: 52
Goals Against: 39
Goal Difference: +13
Last 5 Matches: DDWLL
Preston North End
Top Goalscorers: Callum Robinson (10), Jordan Hugill (10), Aiden McGeady (7).
Most Assists: Aiden McGeady (8), Paul Gallagher (7), Greg Cunningham (5).
Highest Statistical Average Rating: Tom Clarke (7.51).
Record in 2016-17 (League) - W; 16, D; 13, L; 11.
Goals For: 59
Goals Against: 48
Goal Difference: +11
Last 5 Matches: DWDDW
Leeds United have avoided defeat in their last four encounters against Preston North End, winning three and drawing one.
Preston's 5-0 win over Bristol City in midweek was their biggest margin of victory in the Championship since a resounding 6-0 defeat of Cardiff City in April 2009.
Leeds haven't lost three league matches in succession since Uwe Rosler's last three games in charge during the month of October in 2015.
Leeds United: Pablo Hernandez, Attacking Midfielder (7.12 Average Statistical Match Rating).
A consummate playmaker of 31 years, Hernandez initially arrived at Elland Road on loan in the summer transfer window of 2016, bringing with him an eclectic wealth of experience having sported the colours of Valencia, Swansea City, and Spain in the past. Possessed of copious amounts of finesse on the ball and a keen eye for a splitting pass, Hernandez’s form has reached a new zenith under Garry Monk this season, and in spite of recent struggles, the Spaniard will no doubt relish the prospect of a momentous six-pointer in front of scores of adoring supporters tomorrow.
Fact: Hernandez scored his only international goal in 2009, Spain’s fifth in a 5-1 defeat of Austria at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion.
Preston North End: Tom Barkhuizen, Winger (7.06 Average Statistical Match Rating).
Blessed with rapidity and an eye for goal, 23 year-old wide-man Barkhuizen was recently crowned the Championship’s player of the month, and despite his previous association with bitter rivals Blackpool, a series of stellar performances have attained him favourable status among North End supporters. With six goals in 11 appearances following a winter move from Morecambe of League Two, Barkhuizen’s showings have been the focus of much attention of late and the potent threat posed by both he and fellow winger Aiden McGeady must be mitigated if United are to emerge from tomorrow’s match with all three points.
Writer’s Prediction: Leeds United 2-1 Preston North End
Statistics derived from WhoScored.com
Photo: Action Images
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