Steve Evans’ Leeds United travel to Rotherham’s New York Stadium tomorrow to face the South Yorkshire side, who are managed by an ex-Leeds manager in Neil Warnock. Leeds will arrive smarting from a 4-1 home loss last time out against rivals Huddersfield Town.
Under Warnock’ stewardship, Rotherham have escaped the sucking clutches of a Championship relegation battle and currently sit in 20th place in the Championship table based on a run of four wins from their last five games that sees the Millers as one of the form teams in the division. They will be hoping to do the double over Leeds after November’s 1-0 victory at Elland Road, a game which marked the return of a former-Leeds manager in Neil Redfearn.
With each team being managed by one of their former managers, as well as being a West vs South Yorkshire derby, the game will have a certain bite to it.
5 key battles
1. Liam Cooper and Giuseppe Bellusci vs Matt Derbyshire and Jonson Clark-Harris.
When they’ve been on the same wavelength, both Liam Cooper and Giuseppe Bellusci have had a pretty good relationship at the centre of Leeds’ defensive line. Functional and effective rather than solid and spectacular has been the order of the day for a lot of the season.
However, when things have gone wrong, they’ve tended to go wrong spectacularly: Middlesbrough, Brighton and Huddersfield games spring to mind – oh and the opening of the Blackburn game at Elland Road. Defensively naive and prone to moments of escapist lunacy, Cooper and Bellusci fold – albeit with the rest of the side collapsing along with them.
The Whites’ two centre-backs will need to be clued up and sharp in front of goal to deal with the threat of twin six-goal Rotherham top scorers in Jonson Clark-Harris and Matt Derbyshire. Whilst not having particularly high goal tallies, both forwards have the guile and skills to punish Leeds United’s central defenders if they aren’t on top of their game.
Next: Chris Wood and Mirco Antenucci vs Kirk Broadfoot and Danny Collins