The Boxing Day fixture between Burton Albion and Leeds United pits two teams of differing fortunes against each other.
Home side Burton Albion enter the game just one point and one place above the Championship drop-zone. Visitors Leeds sit 16 places and 20 points above their hosts – a 1-0 win against Hull City hoisting them into the play-off picture for the first time since October.
Last matches and current form
Burton’s last match was a 2-1 victory over Reading away from home – goals scored by Tom Flanagan (40′) and Tom Naylor (81′). It was a victory that lifted the Brewers out of the sucking clutches of the relegation battle, giving them a one place breathing space. It was their second win on the bounce after a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers. This brace of wins came after a trio of losses against Preston (2-1), Derby (1-0) and Sunderland (2-0).
Leeds enter the game on something of a run of form like they displayed at the start of the season. Saturday’s hard-fought 1-0 win over Hull City, courtesy of a piece of sublime skill from Pablo Hernández, was United’s third win-in-a-row following on from victories over Norwich (1-0) and Queens Park Rangers (3-1). It was also their fifth win in seven games with only a crushing 4-1 loss against champions-elect Wolves in there. Leeds will be hoping for a display similar to that at Elland Road when Burton were put to the sword in a 5-0 drubbing.
Key men and key battles
The Brewers top-scorer is 35-year-old midfielder Lloyd Dyer who operates down the left and will likely be pitted against a combination of Luke Ayling and either Gianni Alioski or Pawel Cibicki. However Leeds’ defence will also have to be wary of the likes of Lucas Akins (two goals/two assists) and Marvin Sordell (two goals/one assist) as well as the presence of central defender Ben Turner at set pieces (two goals).
Leeds’ threat bristles throughout the front four in a usually-deployed 4-2-3-1 formation. Not only do these players score but they also provide for each other as well. Players such as Kemar Roofe (six goals/one assist), Samu Saiz (five goals/five assists), Gianni Alioski (five goals/four assists) and Pierre-Michel Lasogga (five goals/three assists) will be more than a handful for Burton Albion’s defence to handle.
Likely line-ups and prediction
Burton Albion (3-5-2)
GK: Bywater; DEF: Buxton, McFadzean, Turner; MID: Brayford, Akins, Mason, Allen, Warnock; STR: Scannell, Sordell
Leeds United (4-2-3-1)
GK: Wiedwald; DEF: Ayling, Jansson, Cooper, Berardi; DEF MID: Vieira, O’Kane; ATT MID: Hernández, Saiz, Alioski; STR: Lasogga
Burton 1 – 3 Leeds