The build-up to this game has been rather different in tone to the game which opened the league campaign in August. In fact, had you said one team would be top of the table and the other lingering in the lower-mid table I’m sure many of us would have got the who’s who wrong.
Stoke City, The Premier League Big Boys, Gary Rowett ‘knows the league’, Benik Afobe ‘scores goals for fun at this level, Ten Million Pound Tom Ince. They all came to Elland Road as hot favourites to take the Championship by storm, but it was a very different story by the time 90 minutes was up.
For many Leeds fans it was their first taste of Bielsaism and it was showcased like we were being sold a new car, all cogs were in motion. Fast, direct, attacking possession-based football the likes of which we hadn’t seen for some time. The day the city became believers. Leeds ran out 3-1 winners with Klich, Pablo and Cooper getting the goals in front of a packed-out sun-scorched Elland Road.
Stoke never really got going this season and despite a good result here and there have largely struggled for the consistency needed for a play-off push. Coming into this game off the back of a 3-2 cup loss to Shrewsbury aswell as just 1 win in their last 5 league games. However there is the added dimension of new boss Nathan Jones at the Stoke helm, there may be a surprise or two come kick off with Jones credited for playing a nice brand of passing football at his previous club, Luton.
Leeds are largely expected to announce an unchanged side, as Bielsa announced in his press conference yesterday. Though I’m sure if you’d asked he could probably have announced Stoke’s too. Leeds obviously won their last game 2-0 against Derby and will be hoping for more of the same.
As ever, if Leeds play their game, they will win. But I wouldn’t be expecting the rollover we enjoyed in August.