Football – England – Championship
Saturday 2nd February 2013 – Kickoff: 1500hrs
Leeds United take on the Championship’s runaway league leaders Cardiff City at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon as they look for their seventh home win on the trot.
Upon first glance at Leeds’ recent results and you’d quite rightly think they are a team with two sides to them; at home they have been impressive, while away from home they’ve been quite frankly, disappointing. Leeds have suffered recent away defeats at Nottingham Forest, Hull City and Yorkshire rivals Barnsley, but at home they’ve been dominant with six straight wins over Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Ipswich Town, Middlesbrough, Bolton and Bristol City.
Their home record reflects their recent dominance which stands at 9-2-3 20/17 and they’ve already beaten three of the top six clubs at Elland Road so far. Neil Warnock has instilled a greater steel in defence as well with Leeds racking up six clean sheets in the process, and a play-off place is not out of the question either for the Yorkshire club who are just six points adrift of Middlesbrough.
Leading goalscorer Luciano Becchio (15 goals, 4 assists) will be pivotal for a Leeds late surge as will the back-up players like El-Hadji Diouf (4 goals, 5 assists), Michael Tonge (4 goals), Paul Green (4 goals) and of course Ross McCormack (5 assists), and they are certain to cause Cardiff some problems today.
Cardiff City travel north on the back of a six match unbeaten run in the Championship and The Bluebirds have lost just once in their last thirteen league matches which was a temporary ‘blip’ at home to Peterborough United back in mid-December.
Having always previously been ‘the bridesmaids, never the bride’ it finally looks like manager Malky Mackay will achieve what numerous previous managers have failed to do (although they’ve come mightily close) and that is to get the Welsh side promoted up into the top-flight of English football.
Now on the final straight and Cardiff have hit their straps at the right time with recent wins over Leicester City 1-0 away, Crystal Palace, Millwall, Birmingham and Blackpool, they are also unbeaten in their last six on the road and are looking for a fifth consecutive away win. Cardiff’s away record stands at 7-2-5 25/22 but if I am hyper-critical, they are not always convincing away from home and they’ve already lost to teams they should have beaten; Bristol City 2-4, Nottingham Forest 1-3, Bolton 1-2 and Charlton Athletic 4-5 are prime examples.
Cardiff also have firepower though with the likes of Whittingham (7 goals, 7 assists), Helguson (7 goals, 5 assists), Gunnarsson (6 goals), Mason and Noone (5 goals apiece) and of course Bellamy. Craig Noone has also chipped in with 8 assists, so I reckon we could be in for a hell of a match at Elland Road today!
Leeds have put in some solid performances at home and I believe they have what it takes (along with home advantage) to get at least a point here despite the opposition today. I reckon we’ll see some goals and I’ll tip Leeds with the quarter ball here in what could end up a 2-2 draw.
Pick: Leeds United AH+0.25 @ 1.89 Pinnacle