Match Preview: Leeds do battle with Oxford in final pre-season fixture
Saturday, 29th Jul 2017 11:57 by @LucasMonk_
Leeds United will today conclude their pre-season programme at home to Oxford United, of League One, at Elland Road.
For the first time since a League Cup meeting in August 2012, Leeds will do battle against the U’s today - in what is the last fixture of this pre-season for the Whites.
After suffering a humbling 4-2 defeat at the hands of an accomplished La Liga outfit - SD Eibar - in their penultimate friendly fixture, Thomas Christiansen and his charges will doubtless be eager to record a victory against an Oxford side now managed by former Whites assistant Josep Clotet.
The match, which is due to begin at three o’clock, will no doubt pose a stern question of Leeds’ credentials ahead of an onerous Championship campaign in which the Whites will aspire to better last season’s league placing of seventh.
Oxford, who harbour among themselves lofty ambitions of surpassing last season’s highly commendable finish of eighth in their first campaign in the third tier since 2003-04, have recruited an abundance of new talent to the Kassam Stadium including Dutch full-back Dwight Tiendalli, seasoned winger James Henry and former Barcelona B midfielder Xemi Fernández.
Both sides will be equally anxious to bring to an end their pre-season campaigns with a victory insofar as to gather much-needed momentum ahead of the attritional, 46-game Football League season - the start of which now looms on the horizon.
For Leeds, home debuts could be conferred upon a deluge of recent acquisitions. Vurnon Anita, Ezgjan Alioski and Samuel Sáiz have all been additions of prominence in recent weeks and they are but a few of the many new signings in contention for a starting berth today.
Opponents Oxford have also been keen to bolster their ranks and among the most significant of their transfer dealings has been the signing of Jonathan Obika. The 26-year-old forward was captured from the U’s bitter rivals, Swindon Town, on a free transfer having scored 25 goals in three seasons at the County Ground. Like Obika, midfielders Jack Payne and the aforementioned Xemi Fernández will be vying for starts as will experienced defender Mike Williamson.
Memorable Match: Leeds United 3-0 Oxford - August 28, 2012
On a thoroughly pleasant summer’s evening at Elland Road almost five years ago Leeds comfortably saw off the challenge of Oxford, then managed by current Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder, to progress into the third round of the League Cup.
A goal from Jamaica international Rodolph Austin in addition to further contributions from defensive duo Sam Byram and Tom Lees ensured that the Whites dispatched, in a facile manner, their League Two opponents.
The game is perhaps most fondly remembered for Sam Byram’s goal - an exceedingly impressive lobbed effort - an event that marked his emergence as a first-team player.
Today’s match is the first opportunity for many a Leeds supporter to, at long last, observe the club’s platoon of new signings in action. The signings of Ezgjan Alioski and Samuel Sáiz in particular were greeted with much in the way of exuberant fanfare, and the club appear to have acknowledged its presence. In the company of a paying adult, a fan under the age of sixteen can enter Elland Road free of charge. With that offer in mind, one could be forgiven for anticipating a healthy attendance today.
A pre-season fixture it may be, but there exists a tangible degree of excitement in anticipation of Thomas Christiansen’s first match in front of the Leeds supporters. It is for that reason, then, why it should be considered imperative that the Whites record victory today; due to the keen interest in the match, a particularly negative result could cast doubt on the club’s aspirations to compete for a play-off place.
I cannot, though, envisage such a result. Leeds will have learned much in defeat against Eibar and as such should be suitably equipped to win the match.
Writer’s Prediction: Leeds 2-0 Oxford
Photo: Action Images
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