After the tumultuous Christmas period that had just about everything you can experience in football packed in, Leeds head into January 2 points clear at the top.
It is unlikely that Leeds will make any great moves in the January window, it is likely however that the big sides around us, your Derbys, your Aston Villas, your West Broms will. Though this does not necessarily equate to success, given their activity in the Summer, on paper, you’d have expected Stoke and West Brom to be lightyears ahead. Oh, the SkyBet.
As is tradition, the first week in January is the Third Round Proper of the FA Cup and Leeds were given the fairly boring tie of a trip down to Loftus Road to face QPR. Following the exhaustion of the Christmas period, I highly doubt that either side will put out a full strength side and Leeds are expected to reward a number of youth team players with first-team debuts. QPR are in blistering form of late and have risen to 9th in the table winning 3 of their last 5 games. In fact, the last time they lost was on their visit to Elland Road in early December, where two goals from Roofe was enough to seal the victory.
Next, Leeds host Derby County in the highlight of this month’s fixtures. In the reverse fixture, Leeds ran out 1-4 winners away from home in a game where many Leeds fans would say ‘it started to feel real’. This time it almost certainly won’t be as conclusive. Frank Lampard’s side were still working themselves out and it’s fair to say they have come on leaps and bounds since. They currently sit in 6th place and I expect them to have a strong finish to the season, putting them firmly in the play-off picture. Elland Road, Friday Night, Under the Lights, who knows what will happen?
Leeds will be thankful for the rare 8-day break before they visit Stoke City, who are managed by under-fire Gary Rowett. God forbid they have hired Les Professeurs Moyes or Allardyce by then. This is a repeat of the season’s opening fixture where Leeds carried out a complete domination of the team that have quickly gone from favourites to The Crisis Club. They’re 14th but also bottom of the ‘teams that could make the play off’s still’ mini-league and I expect them to throw the kitchen sink at it one more in January so this fixture could prove more intriguing than we may expect.
In their final fixture of the month, Leeds shall make the short trip to the ground of Rotherham United Galacticos, another team we faced in August. On that occasion, Leeds carried out a fairly routine 2-0 victory with goals from Luke Ayling and Kemar Roofe, which coincidentally may be more goals than Rotherham had touches of the ball that day. Rotherham are firmly strapped into a classic relegation scrap and at the time of writing have at least got their head above the water and have a 3 point cushion on 22nd.
So, 3 aways, 1 at home. To be serious contenders, Leeds should be expecting to or at least be just shy of claiming the maximum points possible in this period.