Leeds enter tonight’s game against Brighton in fifth place after reading’s 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday leapfrogged the Royals above the Whites. Visitors Brighton sit equal on points with Newcastle at the head of the table, both sides on 77 points.
Home side Leeds are on a six-match unbeaten run of late since a 2-0 reverse at Elland Road against Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City. Leeds have won 20 games in this seasons Sky Bet Championship, 12 of these wins at Elland Road – these 20 wins beating the tally of wins in each of their last six seasons. Their fifth place has largely been achieved on the back of a much-improved defence alongside the 22 goals from Chris Wood, these goals being scored in a league-leading 19 games.
It was already known that Leeds would be missing players due to both injury and suspension for the game. Injury wise, Leeds United are missing the long-term, left-back absentees of Lewie Coyle and fellow youngster Tyler Denton.
On the suspension front, the Whites would have to do without Kalvin Phillips, who is serving the last of a two-match suspension for his second sending off this season. Regular right-back Luke Ayling also misses out after picking up ten yellow cards for the season, meaning that there will be a certain amount of reshuffling at the back for the home side.
Leeds United team news
Leeds make three changes to today’s starting XI from their last game against QPR, a 0-0 draw at Elland Road – the first scoreless game of the Whites’ campaign. In the biggest news of the day, talismanic defender Pontus Jansson drops to the bench, his place in the starting XI taken by Liam Cooper who will play alongside Kyle Bartley in the heart of the defence.
The second change, as expected was the switching over of Gaetano Berardi to right back, to cover Luke Ayling’s suspension, and the coming in of Charlie Taylor in his usual left-back role, after being an unused substitute last time out. The final change sees the rapid acceleration of Hadi Sacko preferred in place of Kemar Roofe who started last time out against QPR.
In bench news, on-loan Swansea winger Modou Barrow, freshly picked to play for Gambia in the international break, comes back in to the reckoning and with a potential chance to get on the pitch and add impetus and pace to what is already a two-pronged wing attack.
Leeds United team news – fan reactions
The news of the released line up and starting XI has definitely started rippling across Twitter with most Leeds United fans focusing on one thing – the dropping of Jansson to the bench in favour of a promoted Liam Cooper.
This fan is hoping that Cooper plays well.
Let's hope Cooper is having a good game #lufc
— Finnish LUFC (@LS11_ER) March 18, 2017
There’s not that hope from this fan about Cooper.
Cooper starts and Pontus on the bench!?! I don't understand #lufc
— Perko (@stelufc88) March 18, 2017
Many would think it would be all about a missing Swede, but Leeds fans are definitely more worried about a picked Scot.
Cooper starting just seems bizarre, Monk not the sort to mess about with back four
— James Hall (@JamLUFC) March 18, 2017
Away from the Jansson/Cooper ponderings, some are looking at other players – including journalist Leon Wobschall.
Big game for Sacko today, you'd venture #lufc
— leon wobschall (@LeonWobYP) March 18, 2017
With a fury building, this Leeds fan simply pleads for a sense of calm…and sense as well.
— Jason Rodi (@rodi_jason) March 18, 2017
When words fail, a gif observation is sufficient as shown by this tweet from a Leeds United blog.
— Thru It All Together (@ThruItAllLUFC) March 18, 2017
Leeds fan Hannah looks at results elsewhere, then glances back with a shake of the head at Leeds United’s line-up.
Wolves might be helping us by beating Fulham but we are certainly not doing ourselves any favours with that lineup #LUFC
— hc (@__hannahnicole) March 18, 2017
It still doesn’t make sense to most Leeds United fans, the dropping of consistency in Jansson for Cooper who some Leeds fans see as a calamity waiting to happen. This Leeds fan is definitely one who is doubting.
Jannson on the bench pic.twitter.com/YZaCqG6XWJ
— Phil Robertson (@PhilbergLUFC) March 18, 2017
How will it all end up? Who will come out of this one with the points?