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Match Preview: Burnley v Leeds United - Turf Moor the bleak setting for League Cup clash
Tuesday, 19th Sep 2017 17:42 by @LucasMonk_
After having inflicted upon them the grievous wound of defeat for the first time in Thomas Christiansen’s reign - by the lions of Millwall - on Saturday, Leeds United briefly part with league competition this evening as they disembark for the wholly wretched setting of Turf Moor - ahead of an eagerly anticipated duel with Burnley in the Carabao Cup.
Saturday afternoon saw Leeds United defeated for the first time this season; their surprise conquerors were Millwall, an old foe with whom a thoroughly acrimonious rivalry was rekindled. In the glare of enmity, United had their most detrimental foibles exposed and exploited. A robust, almost functional Millwall team, though nigh bereft of technical aptitude of any kind (the Lions have the second-lowest pass completion percentage in the division), made use of their superior physicality to put Leeds to the sword. The final scoreline read 1-0, and, to speak candidly of the matter, it flattered the side defeated.
With that, an imperious sequence of United results was brought to a screeching halt - though the wheels have not ceded quite yet. Leeds remain the league’s leaders, though owing only to goal difference, and in the eyes of a judicious follower of the club’s fortunes, the defeat at the hands of that rabble from Bermondsey may thicken the skins of the United players and thus serve them well in the long term. Furthermore, said defeat does not erase from existence the substantial improvements recently made to the club’s infrastructure, playing staff and overall operation - the foundations laid by Andrea Radrizzani remain firmly in place and will continue to be constructed upon.
In their next league fixture, scheduled to be contested on Saturday, Leeds play host to Ipswich Town, managed by Mick McCarthy, a man whom many consider to be an archetypal English coach: wily, experienced and with a predilection for direct passing. However, United must first fulfill tonight’s Carabao Cup third-round tie, which sees them pitted against Burnley. It is viewed as a highly arduous fixture; an unceremonious reunion with both striker Chris Wood and full-back Charlie Taylor, former stalwarts of United, is the expectation of many, but what evidence is at play to indicate that Sean Dyche will be so foolish as to field a full-strength side? Comprehensive alterations to the Clarets side that eked out an exceedingly commendable draw at Anfield at the weekend could well be afoot, as could be overarching changes to the Leeds team who were so ignominiously beaten at The Den - it is in this sense that the game may well present an opportunity, particularly to players such as Andy Lonergan and Mateusz Klich (neither have completed ninety minutes since their respective arrivals from Wolverhampton Wanderers and FC Twente respectively).
When one considers the positions of both United and their opponents in their respective divisions, it would seem quite inane for Christiansen and Dyche to refrain from excusing some of their more salient stars from what is, to both clubs, a trifling fixture. And so, the match is an opportunity for Leeds to allow for the recuperation of Pierre-Michel Lasogga and others of his ilk while potentially securing a victory that would ameliorate morale ahead of a crunch clash against a direct competitor for the play-off places on Saturday. Whether or not this will be an opportunity that is grasped by Christiansen - and those he elects to select tonight - with both hands remains to be seen.
Last season’s mettlesome venture in this competition saw United reach the quarter-final and while one could be forgiven for possessing a yearning for a similarly valiant effort on the club’s part this season, it must be remembered that Leeds risk dissipating their best chance of promotion from the second division in many years if they are to become infatuated with the sentimental romanticism of knockout football.
Former United stalwarts Chris Wood and Charlie Taylor could well be selected by Clarets impresario Sean Dyche - Wood and Taylor made a combined 176 league appearances for Leeds and are anticipated to receive much in the way of antipathy if they are to take to the pitch tonight.
Republic of Ireland international Jeff Hendrick - a cultured central midfielder captured from Derby County last summer - may feature following his overcoming of a recent thigh injury.
Swedish defensive juggernaut Pontus Jansson will not play owing to a hamstring injury sustained in the recent match against Millwall. Furthermore, club captain Liam Cooper is also not available for selection as he has not travelled with the squad.
Youthful forward Jay-Roy Grot, a muscular player purchased from NEC Nijmegen during the summer transfer window, may well have bestowed upon him a first Leeds start by Christiansen, as may Swedish attacker Paweł Cibicki.
United have tasted victory in a mere two of their last twelve duels against Premier League opposition in the League Cup, defeating Everton (2-1) and Southampton (3-0) under the management of Neil Warnock in the 2012-13 season.
There has been one solitary meeting between the two clubs in this competition throughout history: a clash at Elland Road in 1972. The match ended 4-0 in Leeds’ favour.
Burnley last won a home fixture in this competition in September 2013, defeating Nottingham Forest, then divisional rivals of the Clarets, 2-1 in front of a frightfully gargantuan crowd of 6,405 spectators.
Venue: Turf Moor, Burnley (capacity of 22,546).
Coverage: BBC Radio Leeds.
Referee: Darren Bond, who once officiated a match in August 2016 that was described by former United striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as being akin to the “Wild Wild West.” Hasselbaink’s Queens Park Rangers had been defeated 3-2 by Barnsley in the fixture in question.
Burnley: Nahki Wells
A fleet-footed Bermuda-born forward of 27 years, Wells first rose to prominence while sporting the colours of Bradford City in both League Two and League One. For City, Wells scored 42 league goals in 91 league appearances, forming a potent partnership with target-man James Hanson in attack. His goalscoring exploits for the Bantams prompted Huddersfield Town, then of the Championship, to pay to Bradford a club-record fee. Wells signed for Burnley for a reputed £5,000,000 in the recent summer transfer window, after three full seasons with the Terriers; he has not yet made an appearance for the Clarets, but may well be afforded an opportunity against Leeds tonight - he has previously been a thorn in United’s side while playing for Huddersfield.
Leeds United: Paweł Cibicki
Malmö-born Cibicki, 23, penned a four-year contract at Elland Road on transfer deadline day, though he is yet to appear for Leeds. Cibicki was examined by scouts of AFC Ajax and Manchester United in May this year, and has played in the UEFA Champions League in addition to Sweden’s Under-21 team. Disposed to roaming from his position in order to create for himself space in which to threaten opposing teams, Cibicki may well spearhead United’s attack this evening as Pierre-Michel Lasogga is expected to be omitted from the match.
After comprehensive home victories over feeble lower-league opponents in Port Vale (4-1) and Newport County (5-1), tonight’s match sees Leeds United embark upon a rather more arduous trip to wretched Burnley.
Now of the Premier League, Burnley present to United’s Carabao Cup venture a threat immeasurably more potent than those posed to the Whites in previous rounds. The Clarets, still managed by Sean Dyche, are seventh in the Premier League and they recently secured a highly commendable 1-1 draw at Anfield against Liverpool.
Should Leeds lose this match, it will be no disgrace on their part - so what is there to be lost by way of featuring a weakened side with one watchful eye on Saturday’s momentous match at home to Ipswich Town? An unremarkable departure from the Carabao Cup may well prove advantageous in the future, and there are several players longing for first-team minutes in a bid to refine their fitness and thus compete for a starting berth. A team often learns more in defeat than it does in victory - tonight may be one such occasion.
Photo: Action Images
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