Monday, 31 January 2011



Leeds have signed Manchester City goalkeeper David Gonzalez! But will this see the exit of star man Kasper Schmeichel? He's been linked with several top flight clubs. If there is any movement it will be on here first!

Woodgate deal off! Rumours of bringing the ex-Leeds defender back on loan are officially OFF!

Leeds chasing Michael Johnson however the deal looks unlikely as early interest seems to have worn off.

Blackpool Midfielder Keith Southern has been linked with Leeds.
More on this story to follow...

This rumour is very strong!

Reported to be in Leeds eyeing a loan move to Elland Road. Simon Grayson managed Southern at Blackpool which adds clarity on this possible deal.

Simon Grayson says "I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple more players come in and a couple more go out".

The capture of stopper David Gonzalez has been confirmed by Leeds United for a loan deal until the end of the season.

Despite rumours I can confirm there is NO interest from Tottenham or Liverpool for Leeds' Kasper Schmeichel. Don't read too much into the new signing of Goalkeeper Gonzalez!


Neil Collins is set to leave Elland Road for Sheffield United in the next few hours. This might open the door for another player to join Grayson's Leeds squad.

JOHNSON UPDATE - Bradley will go nowhere this window! But in regards to Michael Johnson. There is interest from both parties (Leeds & Michael Johnson), finally to add incentive to the deal, Mancini is looking to loan out the midfielder. A deal definitely on the cards...

I can rubbish any Darren Prately rumours, there has been no movement on this deal, purely wishful thinking!

Neil Danns is in the centre of Championship transfer speculation, Leeds rumoured to be interested but Hull are leading the chase.

Collins close to Blades switch!

LEEDS LATEST! Southern and Johnson could both join tonight on loan. Southern rumoured to be seen in Leeds, only a rumour. The complication with Johnson's possible move is that Leicester are also interested and it seems that Grayson and Eriksson are in a tug of war over the City Midfielder.

Kilkenny back at Elland Road after the Asia Cup, he is currently entering contract talks, and he poised to be in the squad against Hull tomorrow night.

Neil Collins will complete a move to Sheffield United as they look to rebuild their defence, this however leaves a lack of back-up for first choice defenders Andy O'Brien and Alex Bruce. This deal is NOT  loan and will be a permanent switch for the Scotsman.

Everything is quiet at the moment in terms of moves coming in the direction of Elland Road.

News will be on hear as soon as something surfaces.

18.50 - Two unknown Championship clubs are rumoured to swoop for Burnley striker Chris Iwelumo. There is no report that one of these clubs is Leeds!


18.54 - Leeds United have confirmed that Neil Collins has joined Sheffield United for an undisclosed fee. Collins has made 23 appearances for United this term and although he is disappointed to be leaving Elland Road, he has taken the option to leave.

19.26 - Still waiting for confirmation on the Southern deal, this seems the most likely player to come through the door, I believe he can also play in the back four which kills to birds in one stone.

19.42 - Will Ken Bates dip into the pool of money taken from the Neil Collins deal to bring in a fresh face? No news thus far.

20.38 - Just over 2 hours remaining before the deadline closes. For Leeds fans even if Grayson can't tie up a deal for one of the numerous players United are linked with the loan window opens again on the 5th February.


Leeds have had a clear out 5 players leaving with only one arrival at Elland Road.

Outs - Alan Martin (Released), Tom Elliot (Released), Jason Crowe (Released), Fede Bessone (loan - Charlton), Neil Collins (transfer, undisclosed fee - Sheffield United)

Ins - David Gonzalez (loan - Manchester City)

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Saturday off, Transfers, Strikers!

Simon Grayson's squad get to watch from a far this Saturday. The FA Cup is back this weekend but not for Leeds after falling at the hands of Arsenal. Some Championship teams are playing catch up this Saturday but United will get a rest and prepare for Tuesday's clash at the KC Stadium against Hull. Leeds have had an extremely hectic January and now they prepare for a stampede in the final three months of the season. United must have no regrets as a return to the top flight is sight.

There has been no ins or outs in the transfer window for Grayson, however Leeds fans will be delighted to hold on to Bradley Johnson who is one of only two Leeds players to play in every game this season. Grayson has made it public knowledge that he wants to bring in one or two more players however there is yet to be any movement.

Summer signings Ross McCormack and Billy Paynter are still trying to break their duck at Elland Road! With 24 appearances between them and still no goals, their credibility is starting to be questioned at Elland Road. Ross has showed promising signs and in my opinion needs more playing time. Billy just looks a bit sluggish but then again does seem to link up well with the midfield. The travelling fans going to Hull on Tuesday would love to see either of them to bag their first goal for United.

Luciano Becchio brought up his 50th goal for Leeds on Saturday and with the Argentine in fine form Leeds will be confident of securing a play-off place. Davide Somma has bagged 9 goals so far this season and with the South African looking like he's rekindled his early season form Grayson has another front man to rely on.

Monday, 24 January 2011

The race to the Premier League!

The second half of the season is well under way, but which teams will win those exclusive spots to the top flight of English football?

You can't look past league leaders QPR. Under the managerial expertise of Neil Warnock and not to mention some sizable funding they find themselves leading the pack being 5 points clear at the top of the Championship. With January signings of Ismael Miller, Wayne Routledge and Pacal Chimbonda it is hard to imagine that they will concede their sizable lead at the top. However, with many teams chasing, the pressure is on for Warnock's men.

The other main contenders include; Cardiff City, Norwich City, Swansea City, The one and only Leeds United and finally Nottingham Forest. These teams currently occupy the play-off places aside from Cardiff who are sitting pretty in second.

Cardiff. A wealth of talent embodies the Welsh side but can Dave Jones harness the consistency required to earn a top two finish? With the attacking prowess of Craig Bellamy, Jay Bothroyd, Michael Chopra and new signing Jon Parkin spearheading the front line, it takes the best defences to keep out a formidable line up.

Newly promoted Norwich and Leeds have been no push overs on their return to the second tier, but can they make it back to back promotions? Leeds. Simon Grayson's young squad are far proceeding expectations so far this season. United fans will see this run of form as no surprise with high expectations constantly set. They currently sit 5th in the league ladder with a healthy 45 points. The form of Luciano Becchio is highly regarded as a key reason for Leeds' success so far this term, with the Argentine bagging 13 goals. Leeds have been the most enthralling side to watch this season with an unrivalled 97 goals being scored in their games this term. Grayson has untangled the complex knot that was Leeds United in League One and now they are eying up a return to the league that has not graced their presence since 2003.

Nottingham Forest. A proud history follows them but all that is forgotten now as they find themselves in a fight to get out of the Championship. Many of their games fell foul of the big freeze and find themselves only having played 25 games giving them games in hand on all competitors. If they successively record wins in these games they will rocket themselves from 6th to 2nd. Serious contenders in a thrilling title race.

Outsiders. Teams to keep an eye on should be Watford, Leicester and Hull. Watford occupy 7th place and like Forest hold games in hand on rival teams, Danny Graham is the gem at Vicarage Road smashing 15 goals earning him the title of the leagues top marksman. Leicester under the new management of Sven Goran Eriksson have had the license to spend the big bucks and have brought in Everton striker Yakubu on loan. Can the experience on and off the pitch at the Walkers Stadium smuggle the Foxes into the play off spots. Finally Hull, new owners at the KC has allowed Nigel Pearson to open the cheque book bringing in several loanees aswell as dynamic striker Matty Fryatt. The Tigers have been in a rich vain of form and could be the dark horse in the Championship as they also look to snatch a play off place.

My Promotion Prediction!

Champions - QPR
Runners Up - Nottingham Forrest
Play-Off Champions - Leeds United

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Leeds draw in the dark

After a midweek FA Cup defeat to Arsenal at Elland Road the Whites had a tough trip to Portsmouth. Not a game anybody would want to see on their fixture list as bodies were still on the mend after a gruelling contest against the Gunners.

Simon Grayson was forced to bring in Leigh Bromby with Andy O'Brien out with a hamstring injury, but he was able to welcome back Luciano Becchio and George McCartney to the starting eleven with Billy Paynter and Ben Parker stepping aside.

It's often the case that after strong Cup performances the team in question get brought back down to earth in the League, Leeds fell foul of this on 25 minutes as Joel Ward put the home side ahead. Portsmouth controlled the opening period, was it a case of tired legs for Grayson's men?

Portsmouth may have dominated the first half but it took just 76 seconds for Leeds to get back on terms in the second half. A combination of Snodgrass and Howson set up Becchio allowing him to hammer home the equaliser. United were in control, more than you could say for those in charge of the electrics. However Pompy weathered the storm, only to go up the other end and take the lead. A ball over the top put John Utaka through to stab home past Kasper Schmeichel on 61 minutes.

It was soon 2-2. Grayson brought Davide Somma on for Sanchez Watt and what an inspired substitution it was. Becchio played a through ball to Somma and with his first touch he levelled it! Leeds were applying the pressure but the last 25 minutes was a slight farce with the floodlights quite literally going out. That meant the referee had to hold proceedings. Was this the creditors adding embarrassment to Portsmouth already devastating situation?

Neither side had that decisive goal in them though. A fixture this season that has created a whopping 10 goals resulted in another draw. So the lights are out at Fratton Park but the lights are still firmly on in Leeds' promotion charge.

Att. 20,040
Portsmouth 2-2 Leeds

Ward 26 - Portsmouth
Becchio 47 - Leeds
Utaka 61 - Portsmouth
Somma 63 - Leeds

Friday, 21 January 2011

Hughesy departs Elland Road

Hardworking utility man Andy Hughes has joined Scunthorpe on an 18 month deal. The 33 year old made 139 appearances for the club, scoring 1 goal. He joined Leeds when the 15 point deduction was sanctioned and since then he has contributed in many areas of the pitch.

He will leave United with the best wishes from the fans, and his proudest moment at Elland Road will surely be clinching promotion to the Championship which was followed with some hilarious antics from Hughesy!

Good luck in the future, forever fondly remembered.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Leeds exit after hard fought clash

A packed Elland Road entertained Arsenal as Leeds aimed to cause another cup shock. Simon Grayson made two enforced changes from his side that beat Scunthorpe, with Ben Parker and Billy Paynter coming in for cup tied George McCartney and injured Luciano Becchio (back). Arsene Wenger brought in Samir Nasri to bolster his starting eleven. He kept Fabregas, van Persie and Theo Walcott all on the bench.

There was no question of who was making the noise at Elland Road as the home fans raised the roof. The opening few minutes showed promising signs as Leeds poured forward and looked to take an early initiative. But a hammer blow came on 5 minutes after Nasri squirmed through the United back line, to slot past Kasper Schmeichel to make it 1-0 after their first attack of the game. This didn't silence the Leeds crowd, however it was a brutal blow as United now had to chase the game, the visitors passed the ball around nicely, and the early Leeds pressure seemed to have disintegrated.

Schmeichel was a man on a mission as he looked to keep United in the game. From an Arsenal corner he made a superb save flicking the ball dramatically off the line to deny Chamakh's header. Leeds had created little and they were punished once more just past the half hour. The ball was cleared from the United box only to fall to Bacary Sagna who was allowed to wander into the area to smash home Arsenal's second.

The Gunners were cruising but Grayson's valiant Leeds side weren't about to go down without a fight! Bradley Johnson was teed up by Jonny Howson and hammered home an unbelievable strike, it flew into the top corner, Elland Road erupted! Suddenly it was game on. From kick-off Arsenal started capitulating, Leeds showed promise and with the home fans behind them they went into half-time with a comeback on the cards.

Wenger's side started the brighter in the second-half. Alex Song broke through after 3 minutes but Schmeichel was on hand to make another great save. Mike Dean seemed to favour the Premier League outfit as his pedantic attitude frustrated Leeds' players. Leeds were attacking in numbers and knew they had nothing to lose. Billy Paynter should have made it 2-2 when he failed to turn in a low cross supplied by Gradel.

It was not Andrey Arshavin's night. The ball fell to him in the box, remarkable he cleared row Z putting the ball on the roof. Then he had a golden opportunity to make in 3 before a flying Scotsman in the presence of Robert Snodgrass came out of nowhere to deny the Russian.

Somma replaced Paynter on 68 minutes and he instantly had a chance when a Paul Connolly cross was sent high and wide by the South African. Leeds were troubling Arsenal, Wenger wasn't about to take any risks as he brought on van Persie and Cesc Fabregas to put Leeds out of reach. They made an immediate impact, Fabregas threaded through Bendtner who flighted a perfect cross for Robin van Persie who rounded off the game with 15 minutes left. The goal left a dejected Schmeichel sat in the goal. But once again the fans sang their praises for the men in white.

A series of decisions from Mike Dean got tempers bubbling over as Johnson, Howson and Snodgrass all picked up bookings. There was time for one more thrill as Kasper Schmeichel came up for late Leeds corner, he towered up and nearly got his head to the ball, but Arsenal were just to good on the night for Leeds.

Huddersfield await Arsenal in the fourth round and as for Leeds, this could be a blessing in disguise for Grayson's men as they plan for a competitive promotion push.

Att. 38,232
Leeds 1-3 Arsenal

Nasri 5 - Arsenal
Sagna 35 - Arsenal
Johnson 37 - Leeds
van Persie 74 - Arsenal

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Whites have 12th man advantage

Leeds and Arsenal lock horns once more tonight at Elland Road after the tale of two penalties in North London. United will be backed by a sell out crowd, but will the '12th man' give Leeds an edge?

A sold out Elland Road will certainly create for an electric atmosphere as the Big Guns of Arsenal try and secure a 4th round home tie against Huddersfield. Leeds don't need anymore motivation for tonight's clash, however a Yorkshire derby awaiting them in the next round will give the men in white an added incentive.

Simon Grayson has food for thought with star striker Luciano Becchio a doubt with a back injury. This opens the door for Billy Paynter and Ross McCormack to feature also Davide Somma is in contention for a start after scoring in Leeds' 4-0 win against Scunthorpe on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger will have to make some shrewd decisions regarding his starting eleven with several injuries aggravating his defense. Once again he will look to rotate his squad but the odd superstar may be in contention for a start with Wenger under pressure to end his trophy drought.

Sanchez Watt will play against his parent club tonight, and after bagging his first goal for Leeds on Saturday, he says "I'm dying to put in another good performance and would love to score". He's also said "we won't change our approach to the game and will come out fighting, looking to attack responsibly". Finally Grayson has urged his players to enjoy the occasion and to leave the field with no regrets.

Elland Road is in the spotlight tonight as Arsenal come to town. Leeds will be looking to go one better than they did at the Emirates, whilst Arsenal will be desperate to progress through the 3rd round for the 16th consecutive season.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Boys impressing overseas

Leeds players Neil Kilkenny and Ramon Nunez are both currently away on international duty. Nunez scored an equaliser for Honduras against Costa Rica the other day meanwhile Kilkenny has been in Qatar playing for Australia in the Asia Cup, he came on as a substitute against Bahrain to play the final 11 minutes of their last group game.

Although Leeds are missing the services of these players they will be gaining valuable experience to help Leeds in the business end of the season. Grayson will be eager to get Kilkenny back to Elland Road, as he's been an integral part of United's season so far.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Grayson's Gradel Gamble

Simon Grayson shouldn't shy away from taking acclaim for the terrific form of Leeds winger Max Gradel. The Ivorian took his goal tally to 9 for the season on Saturday when he skillfully went past the keeper to secure a crucial 3 points for Leeds.

Gradel initially joined United on loan form Leicester when the club where in League 1, but after impressing, Grayson made the move permanent. Gradel's temperament was certainly questioned by the fans, as he seemed to have a short fuse getting into spats on the pitch with team mates.

On the final day of the season against Bristol Rovers, Gradel lost his rag and was dismissed early in the first half which put United's promotion hopes in serious jeopardy. In the end Leeds limped across the line. The aftermath of his unprofessional actions were that he got hit with a 3 match ban and a large disapproval from the Elland Road faithful.

Grayson still had belief in his ability and was not about to exile him from a reconstructed squad as Leeds prepared for their first season back in the Championship. Gradel could only watch on for the first few games as his suspension frustrated the eager Ivorian.

Gradel did earn his place back in Grayson's side and has contributed 9 goals in 19 appearances with only 3 coming off the bench. He had a fantastic December scoring 5 goals in as many matches, his form sent United into the New Year in a very strong position.

 Its not just his goals that are impressing, he seems a completely evolved character and that is where credit is due to Simon Grayson. He has taken Gradel's temper and harnessed it into footballing ability. Team spirit has never seemed better at Elland Road and Grayson seems to hold the magic wand within the Leeds United fairytale.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Leeds strike 4 to sink Scunny

Leeds were back in action in the league as Scunthorpe arrived at Elland Road. Simon Grayson made one change from the side that drew to Arsenal, with new signing George McCartney replacing Ben Parker in the starting eleven.

Both sides were searching for a win, with the two sides not recording a victory in their last 5 games in all competitions. Scunthorpe would also be looking to get revenge for the previous league encounter when Leeds conquered Glanford Park, skipper Jonny Howson earned his first hat-trick for the club that day, guiding United to victory which sparked a 12 game unbeaten run.

The opening ten minutes were as dire as the weather with both teams struggling to play flowing football. The atmosphere didn't have a spark to it, which you would expect to get from a derby. Soon enough Sanchez Watt gave the Leeds fans something to shout about on 16 minutes when his fierce shot was failed to be kept out by Joe Murphy, Watt who has looked confident in recent games will not be giving up his starting place anytime soon.

It was a matter of minutes before Max Gradel skillfully went past Murphy to make it 2-0, Scunthorpe barely had time to digest the Whites first but after being thread through by Snodgrass the Ivorian outclassed the keeper leaving himself the enjoyable task of rolling the ball into the back of an empty net. Leeds were walking it.

The Elland Road faithful found their voice as a home win looked inevitable. Leeds have been prone to throwing 2 goal leads away but when Scunthorpe casually gave Snodgrass the ball in the final third it was soon 3. He twisted and turned on the edge of the box before the ball popped out to Bradley Johnson who unleashed a thunderous drive which silenced the travelling fans.

Scunthorpe just weren't at the races. Leeds cruised through the remainder of the first half creating several chances meanwhile the Iron just produced thoughtless long balls, which Andy O'Brien and Alex Bruce used as practice for Wednesday's clash with Arsenal, which should be a much sterner test.

At the break Grayson swapped Paynter for Becchio as United aimed to take Scunny to the sword. McCartney made some explosive runs down the left hand side, but after picking out team mates in the box United couldn't capitalise on a disjointed Scunthorpe.

The Whites had nothing better to do than to go for the kill... enter Ross McCormack and Davide Somma. Leeds were playing with freedom which granted the visitors a couple sights at goal. Firstly Jonathon Forte saw his effort graze the outside of the post, and then another powerful strike was deflected off Bruce onto the top of Kasper Schmeichel's crossbar.

Billy Paynter nearly snatched his first goal for the club but his smart shot was blocked on the line by team mate Davide Somma, Billy's wait to get of the mark at Elland Road goes on! Somma made amends though as he sent the fans into raptures to put the icing on the cake for Leeds in the 89th minute.

Leeds showed their ruthlessness as they won a vital 3 points with competition for a play-off place hotting up as a lot of teams are gathering pace. Attentions now turn to Wednesday's FA Cup Replay at home to Arsenal which is a welcomed distraction from a high pressured league campaign. Most importantly though it was all smiles at the final whistle today as United keep their Premier League dream return alive.

Att. 25,446
Leeds 4-0 Scunthorpe

Watt 16 - Leeds
Gradel 20 - Leeds
Johnson 29 - Leeds
Somma 89 - Leeds

Friday, 14 January 2011

Grayson is top boss in December

Simon Grayson rounded the weeks celebrations by winning the December Manager of the Month award. Simon had a fantastic December winning three and drawing two of United's five games, most notably the 2-0 home victory against league leaders QPR.

This is a fantastic achievement for him and said "A lot of hard work has gone in by my players and the rest of the staff. It's testament to the efforts of everyone and how hard we have worked over the past few weeks and months."

He has had many highlights in his time at Elland Road none more memorable than promotion form League 1 on the final day of the season. He has also enjoyed some fantastic results in cup including a 1-0 win over Manchester United, a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane against Tottenham, and most recently another draw in North London with a 1-1 to Arsenal.

May Simon Grayson's reign at Elland Road continue as the man who started his career at the Yorkshire club looks to secure them back to back promotions to the Premier League.

Deja vu?

Will it be another case of 'After the Lord Mayor's show' for Simon Grayson's high flyer's. After an inspiring performance to earn a 1-1 draw away to Arsene's 'eye candy' Arsenal, will this result spark another diabolical run like Leeds fell foul of last season after beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford? Last season United were run away leaders in League 1 before that memorable day on January 3rd. However the aftermath of this game nearly cost the club promotion as Grayson's side took a measly 30 points from their remaining 23 games in the league. In the first half of the season the the Whites gathered an impressive 56 points, which left them 8 points clear at the top and 11 clear of eventual winners Norwich.

Surely relegation worthy form can't find its way into mitts of a Leeds side that find themselves well poised in a Play-off position again... can it? Who knows what caused the rut, but I firmly believe that both the manager and the players will learn their lessons as the Whites prepare for a promotion push in the final half of the Championship campaign.

Macca's back!

Simon Grayson this week has strengthened his squad with the loan signing of George McCartney, the northern Irish left back played a major part in the Whites 12 game unbeaten run before losing away to Cardiff in early January. McCartney has joined from Premier League outfit Sunderland for the remainder of the season and this strong addition will only help United's chances of a return to the top flight.

McCartney has made 17 appearances for Leeds in a loan deal that was extended to keep the defender at Elland Road for several months. His first appearance for Leeds was a 1-0 victory over Sheffield Utd in late September. Leeds entertain Scunthorpe at Elland Road on Saturday, despite a strong performance by Ben Parker against Arsenal, McCartney will definitely be in the squad for the Yorkshire derby, but who will get the nod by Manager Grayson?

Grayson is clearly making a statement to reinforce a so far unpredictable United back line this term. The left back position this season has been weak at times, but now its looking a strong point for United with George McCartney returning to Elland Road. Ben Parker is also looking in good form after eventually getting back to full fitness after a lengthy injury lay off, and finally with summer signing Fede Bessone on the road to recovery, the strength and depth of the United squad is shining through.

Lastly, the Honduran international Ramon Nunez's contract has been extended until the end of the season after only making 2 sub appearances for the club, he is currently away on international duty.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Arsenal snatch last minute leveller against heroic Leeds

Fortune favours the brave! The fearless Leeds side went toe to toe with Arsenal at the Emirates and were sent into dreamland in the 54th minute, as Robert Snodgrass tucked away a penalty after Max Gradel was brought down by Denilson. But hearts of the 8,500 travelling Leeds fans were broken after stand in referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot after Theo Walcott was tucked back by Ben Parker. Fabregas the Spanish maestro calmly stepped up to wipe the disbelieve off the Gunners fans faces to draw level in the 90th minute.

The time for talk was over and now the players prepared for battle on the pitch. People would be forgiven for thinking Leeds were the home side as the travelling fans raised the roof at the Emirates to install a phenomenal atmosphere.

The main focal point of Simon Graysons team selection was the inclusion of Arsenal loanee Sanchez Watt, who Arsene Wenger earlier in the week said "I hope he doesn't play". Wenger showed he meant business with stars such as; Chamakh, Arshavin, Song and Rosicky all in the starting eleven.

The Leeds fans controlled the noise levels but it was Arsenal who controlled the opening period with Arshavin breaking Leeds' offside trap only to be denied by Kasper Schmeichel. Graysons side were soaking up the inevitable Arsenal pressure and looking to catch them on the break. Luciano Becchio nearly opened the scoring after Snodgrass sprung him in with a smart through ball but was denied by Szczesny.

It was a hard fought game in the middle of the park but United were often looking to find width with Gradel and Watt. The on loan youngster seemed in his element as he ran with freedom at the Arsenal defence, but when he got a sight of goal he could only manage to blaze over.

Frustration for the Gunners, Relief for the Whites. Arsenal pressed Leeds with a string of corners but two consecutive goal line clearances from Leeds skipper Jonny Howson added a certain spice to the encounter. The home side battered the United back line but could not create a clear cut chance. It wasn't long until Becchio was called upon to hack away another shot fired towards the United goal as Leeds kept putting their body's on the line to take a 0-0 scoreline into the break.

In the second half both teams came out looking to strike first, but to shock of 59,000 fans inside the Emirates it would be Leeds who took first blood. Max Gradel twisted and turned after being unleashed on another United counter attack and Denilson could only stick out a leg to bring down the Ivorian. The inform Scott took the responsibility and placed the ball on the spot, with the away fans voicing their delight Snodgrass ran up and hammered home past the disappearing dive of Szczesny. The entire Leeds side embraced the travelling fans! They wouldn't dare do it again would they?

Wenger clearly didn't see this in the script! He turned to Fabregas to save the situation as players like Arshavin contributed woefully. Leeds naturally were pegged back as they endured wave after wave of Arsenal attacks. With all this pressure it left the home side open at the back and Leeds nearly fired themselves into the 4th round when a powerful Luciano Becchio header was superbly saved from Szczesny which kept Arsenal in the tie.

Grayson made the decision to bolster his defence by bringing on Leigh Bromby for Sanchez Watt, but wouldn't this invite pressure? Some say attack is the best form of defence, but as Leeds resigned to holding on to this slim one goal lead Wenger turned to speedster Theo Walcott to make the difference.

Leeds fans were in full voice whilst the minutes ticked down, as the clouds cleared it seemed it would be the Yorkshire sides day. Kasper Schmeichel was proving why he attracted such lucrative Premier League offers in the summer by quelling any danger in the United box.

However the pressure finally tolled when substitute Walcott was played through and Ben Parker pulled him back leaving Dowd know choice in to pointing to the spot. Schmeichel had been unbeatable so far as the clock ticked into added time, Fabregas Fantastic vs The Great Dane! Sadly it could not be another scalp for Leeds as Arsenal drew level to set up a thrilling encounter at Elland Road. However deep into stoppage time Arsenal nearly snatched it as Denilson hit a thunderous strike but as he had countless times previously in the tie Schmeichel made a world class save to deny the Gunners.

That concluded a special day out for Leeds, and the fans voiced their jubilation at the final whistle after seeing their Leeds side put in a terrific account of themselves to earn another FA Cup draw in North London.

Arsene Wenger spoke about Leeds' strong performance and spot on tactics.
Cesc Fabregas praised the performance of Kasper Schmeichel, and stated they must play their hearts out up in Leeds if they are going to progress.
Theo Walcott admitted diving in the attempt to get a penalty when he went down in the box within the final moments appealing for a penalty, it was originally given before Phil Dowd changed his mind after consulting his assistant.Walcott and Arsenal got their penalty a couple minutes later which resulted in their equaliser which takes the tie to a replay at Elland Road.

Att. 59,520
  Arsenal 1-1 Leeds

Snodgrass (pen) 54 - Leeds
Fabregas (pen) 90 - Arsenal

Men of the Match: Kasper Schmeichel & Alex Bruce

Friday, 7 January 2011

Alan Smith - Forgiven or Forgotten

As we enter the second week of the January Transfer window speculation linking Leeds with former favourite Alan Smith is a hot topic. The 30 year old Leeds born boy made 172 appearances for the Whites scoring 38 goals in his time at Elland Road. Now could he be making a shock return?

Smith who was an icon at United lost respect from many of the fans when he left his beloved Leeds United for bitter rivals Manchester United. Smith left in difficult circumstances with Leeds being relegated to the second tier of English Football, Smith on that fateful day was a picture of emotion as stood saluting the crushed United fans with tear filled eyes. Those tears were quickly erased from his face as he swapped white for red in a move that angered the city of Leeds.

Did Smith betray the fans by making this heart wrenching move? Or was it out of necessity as Leeds needed to move the player on to cope with their increasing debt? Manchester United were the only high profile team that came in for the Leeds youngster, in reality could a move to one of the biggest teams in the world be ignored?

Smith didn't have the same success as he did at Leeds, scoring 7 goals in 61 appearances in three years at Old Trafford. In his time there his reputation as a prolific striker diminished and he embraced a more dynamic role playing his part in the midfield. He left Manchester United for Newcastle in 2007 and is yet find the back of the net which demonstrates his positional change from his creative forward play at Leeds to his now bullish approach in the middle of the park for the Magpies.

After Newcastle's exit from the Premier League Smith played a huge part in their dominant campaign in the Championship. However so far this season he has not been able to break into the first-team. Cue the speculation, Smith vowed when he left he would love to play for Leeds again, has the time finally come? Manager Simon Grayson has spoken out saying that the reaction of the fans will not influence his decision on whether to move for Smith.

Grayson is looking to strengthen his squad as United look to push for promotion back to the top flight, but does Smith still have what it takes to wear the famous white shirt? Who knows! However what many people do know is that if Smith returns his reception as Elland Road will be a mixed bag of jubilation and hostility.

Fans have called for Leeds to move on and focus on the future by bringing bright young players through, but could the youngster of old rekindle the greatness that once was Leeds United and fire them back to big time along with the new generation of hero's?

Argentine Tango

Luciano Becchio has danced his way into the hearts of the Elland Road faithful by scoring 13 goals this so far this term. With the Argentine on unstoppable form Leeds have emerged as serious promotion contenders.

Becchio has always been a favourite at Elland Road, but was living very much in the shadow of Leeds' former goal machine Jermaine Beckford. This season though despite the additions of Billy Paynter and Ross McCormack to the squad it was Becchio's time to take centre stage. Becchio is regarded as a consistent performer and a player that gives 110% every match, but in League 1 he didn't produce the goals that a starting forward would be expected to contribute.

Questions were asked of Leeds manager Simon Grayson as he controversially turned to Becchio to be the man to lead the line and spearhead Leeds' assault on the Championship. Graysons faith in Becchio has proved to be a stoke of genius, as the fan favourite has been the primary contributor to the Whites being top goalscorers in the league.

Which formation suits him best? Grayson has played around with two formations this season starting with a 4-4-2 but after a string of bad results swiftly turned to a 4-3-3 shape. He is a real aerial threat and seems to benefit from the delivery of the two wide men in the 4-3-3 shape. When Grayson has adopted the 4-4-2 system he has not had a stable strike partner as Paynter and McCormack are yet to get of the mark, Davide Somma played alongside Becchio in the early months however since his last appearance in Leeds' 3-1 win against Bristol City in November Somma has had know game time and questions have been raised whether hes been exiled from Graysons side.

Luciano has had a fantastic start to the season therefore he attracted attention of several Premier League teams, however he was not tempted and committed his future to the club when he signed a new three and a half year deal with the Whites. He stated that he wants to play in the Premiership with Leeds, and if he keeps banging in the goals they could find themselves there sooner rather than later.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Jonny Howson - Coming of Age

What can you say about Jonny Howson. Leeds born and bread and the youngest captain since Billy Bremner. His rise from the youth academy to our indispensable skipper is unbelievable. He is now our longest serving player in the current squad and at the young age of 22, that is quite remarkable. He is a fan favourite at Elland Road and rarely disappoints on the pitch, through his consistency and hard work he has earned the acclaim he receives from the fans and his fellow professionals. The maturity he has shown on and of the field is credit to the attitude in which he approaches the game and the environment he has been brought up in. He has this raw aggression which is harnessed in a positive manner and the way he conducts himself on a football pitch is impressive.

In 181 appearances for the club he's struck 23 goals, none more memorable than his brace away to Carlise which blasted Leeds into the Play-off final, the youngster that night made all the headlines, not only his goals but his performance marked a bright future for midfielder. His disciplinary record is also impressive only collecting 15 bookings and just the solitary red card.

He seems like a true leader, the Leeds United vice-captain has taken to the captaincy in the absence of Richard Naylor  and he seems to hold all the attributes that a successful captain needs, within recent years his passion for the club and the game has shone threw, and the importance of his goals reflect the influence he has on the squad, he always seems to pop up and score those vital goals.

By all means Jonny Howson is a terrific player but he is not yet the finished product, he is still young. He's learning all the time and his love for the game will almost certainly drive him on to a very bright future. But will it be at Leeds? In the recent years Leeds have been branded as a feeder club with the likes of Leeds legend Alan Smith, Paul Robinson, James Milner, Aaron Lennon, Danny Rose and most recently Fabian Delph all sold on to 'bigger' clubs. So will Howson follow suit and jump ship or is the Leeds born boy turned captain here for good? Well you can't stop transfer speculation but under Simon Grayson he has made a strong statement by trying to avoid selling our best players. Jonny himself seems extremely committed to the club and doesn't seem like the character to abandon the team he grew up supporting.

Can lightning strike twice for the Whites against another Premier League Giant?

A year on from Jermaine Beckford snatching a memorable victory at Old Trafford for Leeds United, they find themselves back in action against another one of the Premier League Giants when Simon Graysons men travel down to the Emirates Stadium to play Arsenal, a side who find themselves the nearest title contenders to the Manchester United side that the Whites beat at the same stage of the competition one year ago.

As the Elland Road faithful travel south for the capital the big question on many football fans lips is can Graysons young pretenders cause another shock exit for one of the worlds most explosive sides.

Minds may be cast back to the 1972 Final when Leeds beat Arsenal 1-0 to lift the trophy. Since then fortunes have changed for United as memories of the golden era seem a long time ago. Its almost 10 years since Leeds found themselves matched up against Valencia in the Champions League Semi-final but since then everybody connected with the club has been taken on a roller coaster ride, they have faced relegation from the top flight, play-off final misery, administration which confirmed relegation from the Championship, finding themselves at the foot of the third tier of English football after being struck with a 15 point deduction and finally more play-off heartbreak in League One.

Now Grayson has brought stability and with his side back in the Championship, Cup ties against Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and now Arsenal, allows them to test their Premier League credibility and give them a taste of what will hopefully be a regular fixture in the coming seasons.

Leeds will relish this fixture as it gives them a welcomed break from a very hectic Championship schedule, as they find themselves amongst the front runners in a competitive title race. The pressure will very much be on Arsenal as Leeds will arrive at the Emirates with the license to throw caution to the wind and play with freedom as they look to capture another Premier League scalp. Arsene Wenger will adopt his usual philosophy of putting his young guns on display as they aim to impress the manager in hope of a first team place.

Simon Graysons team selection is one for speculation, many rumours have come out and said that he will rest his stars and play a 'B Team' however in my opinion, rubbish speculation! I expect Grayson to play a side that he believes is capable of beating Arsenal but wouldn't be surprised to see a few changes made. One Leeds player who will be dying to play is loanee Sanchez Watt, he was granted permission to play this week in the Cup tie against his parent club Arsenal and tweeted "this will be the biggest game of my life if I play". Grayson has introduced Watt back to the bench in Leeds' last few games and when given the chance he grabbed it with both hands by impressing when coming on, this puts him in contention for a starting place in the Leeds side on Saturday.

A game of goals can be predicted as Leeds and Arsenal seem to mirror each other in their respective leagues. The two sides match up nicely as they both are the top scores in their leagues (Arsenal 44 goals 21 games, Leeds 46 goals 26 games) however both sides are often suspect to criminal defensive errors, Leeds despite being near the top of the table have the third worst defensive record in the Championship meanwhile Arsenal's defence is regarded the thorn in their title hopes. Although Arsenal are firm favourites Leeds fans will travel to North London with optimism, with fan favourite Luciano Becchio in blistering form bagging 13 goals so far for United this term, with the assistance of Robert Snodgrass, Max Gradel and stand in captain Jonny Howson Leeds are a force to be reckoned with going forward, and these are the men that the fans will be looking too for inspiration come Saturday.

The Emirates is the venue for what will be an explosive encounter as Leeds come to town, the Gunners will dread the consequences of a shock defeat whilst Leeds prepare themselves for what could be another historic FA Cup victory.