Leeds. Almost exactly three years after Jermain Defoe’s replay hat-trick (his third of the season from what I remember) saw off the same opponents in the same round we travel once more to West Yorkshire attempting to further our progress in the FA Cup.
ESPN have claimed the fixture and clearly anticipate a giant-killing, even though it’s not us who were English champions less than twenty years ago and are also former European Cup finalists & CL semi-finalists. A lot has happened at Elland Road since we last met, a promotion and managerial and ownership change. The likes of Howson, Snodgrass and Beckford have moved on and up to be replaced by Lees, McCormack and Austin. The Michaels Tonge and former Spur Brown provide experience; Luciano Becchio continues to supply the goals.
Leeds are the latest club to force their own supporters to cover their face (for more reasons than just shame) by giving employment to one of the most disliked individuals in the English game and I’m not talking about Neil Warnock. It’s over eight years since Spitter Diouf was caught on TV gobbing straight into the face of Dr Arjen De Zeeuw from a yard away, one of a long list of similar offences and, without taking too much of a stance of moral outrage, personally I think it’s a big indictment on our game that he’s still allowed in it. Harumph.
AVB will play a strong, maybe even his strongest side even though we’ve a visit to Carrow Road coming up on Wednesday. BAE will probably start ahead of Naughton, it’ll be interesting to see whether the latter gets a chance on the right in place of the speedy but erratic Walker. Fitness will dictate who lines up at centre back though Caulker and Dawson is most likely I suspect. Lack of alternatives restrict options further up the field, Huddlestone and Sigurdsson will be much vexed if they don’t get a start but it’s likely that Villas-Boas won’t want to take chances so they may begin the match at least as spectators.
Leeds have had an up and down sort of season, they currently sit 11th, 5 points off the play-offs. Chelsea gave them a good chasing in the League Cup a few weeks ago. Given their relative firepower compared to us it’s unlikely we’ll achieve the same result, we should though, even with a weakened side, have enough about us to at worst, bring them back to WHL in time for all of Levy’s late signings to make their debuts.
Kevin Friend is the referee. COYS.
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