Thursday, 31 March 2011

Paddy Power

When will we see the return of Paddy Kisnorbo? The 09/10 player of the year has missed the entire of Leeds' Championship campaign through injury, one that he suffered near the close of last season against Millwall. The Australian rock was in impeccable form and was vying for a World Cup place before suffering that devastating injury. The centre-back has recovered from his injury now and is back in training. Obviously it is not as simply as slotting him straight back into the existing system. Kisnorbo will be lacking severe match practise and fitness. It would be a delight to see him pull on the white of Leeds United in these final eight games however it seems increasingly unlikely. One must think if Kisnorbo were fit this season would Leeds find themselves with slightly less defensive issues? From everybody connected with Leeds United we all hope to see you back in a Leeds shirt sooner rather than later!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Nunez completes loan deal

Ramon Nunez has joined Scunthorpe United on a month's loan. Nunez has not been able to break into the first team squad and despite his impressive performances for the reserve side he has not got the opportunities he would have like. He moves to Scunthorpe to try and save them from relegation and maybe do us a few favours. Best of luck to him.

One in - One out

Jake Livermore has joined Leeds United from Tottenham for the end of the season on loan. The 21 year old midfielder has had loan spells with Ipswich and Derby. He adds more strength and depth to the squad, and with 8 crucial games remaining he should be a good addition to the set up.

Whilst Simon Grayson has brought Livermore to the club he has also allowed youngster Adam Clayton to move out on loan to MK Dons. Clayton has found it difficult to break into the side at Elland Road since joining but Grayson has high hopes for the youngster and believes that finishing the season playing competitive games will benefit all parties involved.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Promotion? Bring it on!

Just about everybody has ruled Leeds out for an automatic promotion. OK. That will be tough and there are a lot of good team in and around us. But here's what I don't understand. Everybody seems to have ruled us out of the Play-offs before they have even started! So I ask why does everybody think we can't achieve what we set out to achieve? I don't quite get this mentality of 'we don't want to get promoted we would prefer to do it next year' I just can't, won't accept that! A Leeds United fan doesn't want to see us reach the Premier League at the first attempt. Someone explain because I'm confused. Yes if we did manage the incredible feat of getting promoted we would have to fight hard in the Premier League next season but what makes anybody think it would be any different if we got promoted the season after that? Answer it won't. This is a big club! So why do people keep ruling us out? It's the last 8 games and anything can happen, there is no easy game. Why can't we do it? Believe. We have a terrific squad. Think of the players that will stand up and be counted when it counts. Jonny Howson is our inspirational skipper, he did it against Bristol Rovers last year and he has done it countless times this season. I view him as the heart of the team. We set out to get promoted because you have to aim as high as possible and as a Leeds player and fan or anybody connected with the club that's what you expect, that's what you want, nothing else will do. Let's accomplish! Let's succeed! Let's march on to the Premier League!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Players won't be short of football during international break

First team players Robert Snodgrass, Barry Bannan (Scotland), Davide Somma (South Africa), Max Gradel (Ivory Coast), Eric Lichaj (USA), Neil Kilkenny (Australia) and Ramon Nunez (Honduras) have all been given the call from to represent their country during this international break. Snodgrass and loanee Bannan don't have to travel far as they match up against Brazil at The Emirates stadium. Snodgrass will have fond memories from Leeds' FA Cup 3rd round tie when he converted a penelty at The Emirates to give Leeds a 1-0 lead that day. Somma and Gradel are both fairly new to the international scene but the forwards fine form has earned their respective call-ups.

Eric Lichaj has been a constant at right back for United since joining on loan to cover injured Paul Connolly. He will be hoping to get a taste as he joins the squad for games against Argentina and Paraguay. Kilkenny is familiar to the Australian set up as he missed January to play in the Asia Cup with his nation. Ramon Nunez who has been impressive for the reserve side is yet to make the breakthrough into the first team squad.

Leeds draw blanks

Its been two weeks of disappointment for Simon Grayson's Leeds side. A goalless draw against Ipswich 10 days ago at Elland Road was the first game Leeds had failed to score in since late November. This followed 1 week later to a 2-0 defeat to struggling rivals Sheffield United. The Championships top scorers have now not netted a goal in their last two games. After two consecutive wins against Doncaster and Preston, United only managed to pick up 1 point out of a possible six. These results now leave the Whites 6 points adrift of 2nd placed Norwich.

The alleged actions of Billy Paynter made Saturday even for the Leeds boss as he was shown a straight red card after having a altercation with former Leeds loanee Shane Lowry. Leeds United have decided not to appeal against the decision despite Paynter pleading his innocence. This means he will miss the next 3 matches against Nottingham Forest, Millwall and Derby. Although this is bad news for the club Leeds do have superb squad depth. Ross McCormack has not featured for the first team in a long while now despite putting in impressive shifts in the reserves. This may open a door for the Scotsman. Davide Somma is another player who is trying to break into that starting eleven, this may give the marksman his chance. Luciano Becchio's form has been put under the spotlight recently with his goals starting to dry up. Is the Argentine losing his touch?

Reading and Burnley have one game on hand on Leeds and with both sides only being 4 points adrift the pressure is hotting up with a crucial 8 games to go to try and confirm Premier League status. Leeds face a huge test next Saturday when Notts Forest arrive at Elland Road. Forest are in 6th place 1 point off Leeds. Billy Davies side have been on a bad run of form so this clash will be a pivotal one for both clubs.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Huge Yorkshire derby for both sides!

Leeds United travel to Sheffied today to take on the struggling Blades. Simon Grayson's side are right in the hunt for a back to back promotion whilst Sheffield United are in serious danger of falling out of the trap door into League 1. When the sides met back in September a 84th minute Bradley Johnson goal secured the points for Leeds. The midfielder is set to make his 100th appearance for the club today.

Micky Adams and Grayson were team mates when Grayson made his Leeds debut. Adams has had the lesser fortunes since he joined replacing Gary Speed. Sheff Utd find themselves 23rd in the table 4 points from safety. Last time out the Blades got crushed 3-0 at the hands of play-off chasing Watford. They will be without suspended Darius Henderson and Lee Williamson who got sent their marching orders on Saturday. Johnny Ertl will also miss out with a knee injury.

Unlike the relegation fighters Grayson has a full squad to select from. Paul Connolly is fit again and could feature. He now has Eric Lichaj to contend with until the end of the season. Richard Naylor is the only doubt who picked up a knock in mid-week. Grayson has food for thought however with Sanchez Watt, Lloyd Sam and Ross McCormack all putting in blistering perfromances for the reserves. The Leeds manager said this earlier this week "The competition isn't just about matchdays, it's about every day in training as well. If someone is off it or they are slacking they know they could lose their place."

Today's clash sees top scorers Leeds face the team that have scored fewer goals than any team in the Championship. Sheff Utd have also not kept a clean sheet in 11 matches. A draw today for Leeds would see Grayson secure his 200th point as manger of the Whites. It's a milestone for United stopper Kasper Schmeichel as he will make his 150th league start. Leigh Bromby will return to Brammal Lane after a spell with the club in which he was promoted to the Premier League, now can he help Leeds do the same feat?

A win for both teams would be priceless. Leeds trying to ignite themselves back to the big time, they are currently 5 points of 2nd place Norwich. Time is ticking for the Blades, they must start winning soon or they will be doomed to a place in the 3rd teer of English Football.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Eric signs on to the end

Eric Lichaj has confirmed that he will remain at Elland Road until the end of the season. Lichaj said he wanted to help the club gain promotion and now he can try to finish the job he joined Leeds to do one month ago.

Lichaj was signed by Grayson to replace the injured Paul Connolly however with the American here now to the end of the season and Connolly returning from his lay-off there will be a competition for places.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Leeds look to make it 3 in 3

Simon Grayson's Leeds side play host to an Ipswich team who currently lie 16th in the table. A win for Ipswich would see them record their first league double over United since the 1981/82 season. Grayson could earn his 201st league point as Leeds manager with a win today. United are by far the most entertaining side but also the most aggressive. Leeds are the top scorers with 69 goals and have been shown more cards than any other team (70 yellows, 3 reds).

Paul Jewell's inherited side have only won once in their last 5 matches, however before that they thumped Doncaster 6-0 away from home. Their last league encounter away from Portman Road saw them record an impressive 2-0 victory against promotion chasers Cardiff. When these to clubs met earlier in the season Ipswich beat Leeds 2-1. Ipswich welcome Kieron Dyer to their squad after striking a loan deal with West Ham. They are without captain David Norris, he is out through suspension. Jimmy Bullard will face a late fitness test. He is the man everybody will be keeping an eye on.

United are unbeaten in 11 games at Elland Road, an impressive run that stretches all the way back to October when Cardiff crushed the Whites 4-0. Last time out Leeds had to scrap for a 2-1 win at Preston, Neil Kilkenny and Billy Paynter scoring the goals that night. Grayson has food for thought with Luciano Becchio vying for a return to the starting eleven. That would mean replacing Paynter who put in an impressive shift on Tuesday night and netted his first goal for the club. Paul Connolly comes ever closer to a return but with this being Erich Lichaj's last game for Leeds on his initial loan spell Connolly is expected to sit this one out.

Its got the potential to be a cracker at Elland Road today. Leeds eyeing up a third consecutive win and looking to edge ever nearer to that 2nd automatic promotion spot.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Top spot might still be in sight

QPR have made all the headlines in the last couple of days, but for all the wrong reasons. They have been charged with seven breaches of FA rules over third-party ownership and agents. This is in reference to the signing of Alejandro Faurlin. QPR denied all charges and now will sit a formal hearing with the FA. If the club are found guilty they could either suffer a fine or a point deduction. They currently sit 7 points clear at the top but more importantly 10 points clear of Leeds. Who knows what the sanction will be? If they do suffer a deduction of points it will bring QPR down into the chasing pack which will therefore leave 2 automatic promotion spots up for grab.

Simon Grayson and Leeds can and will only focus on Saturday's tough game against Ipswich at Elland Road, however this could be just one of many twists and turns in a so far crazy Championship season.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Paynter secures points

Billy Paynter was the man of the moment at Deepdale as he bagged his first goal in a Leeds United shirt! The fans were right behind him all game and when his tremendous strike hit the back of the net it sent 5,000 travelling Leeds fans mad. It was a great moment and I was so glad I was there to see it. Paynter has had an agonising wait for his first goal, he came no closer to when his shot was blocked on the line by Davide Somma against Scunthorpe at Elland Road. Billy said "I'm really chuffed to bits". Now that United's No.9 has broken his duck and I'm sure he will kick on and score many more goals in our push for promotion.

Although Leeds capitalised on the top teams all failing to win bar Norwich it could have been a lot worse if it was not for Kasper Schmeichel making some unbelievable saves. Schmeichel made a superb save early on as he deflected a powerful strike onto the bar. He was on top form making numerous other world class saves. Kasper and the rest of the team were jubilant at the final whistle knowing full well of the importance of the victory.

Neil Kilkenny broke the deadlock at Deepdale in the first half with a terrific side-footed strike from outside of the box. Simon Grayson's side didn't perform at their best however they fought hard for a priceless victory. Last night's match also handed a debut to Barry Bannan. He came on for the final 7 minutes of the clash and looked good. He closed down the ball well and showed high levels of energy. He also demonstrated a superb ability to pick out a pass. But the night belonged to Paynter and Leeds.

The 5,000 Leeds fans made the atmosphere and they finally had something to celebrate on a Tuesday night as they recorded their first win in a night fixture this term.

Att.15,269 (5,000 Leeds)
Preston 1-2 Leeds

Kilkenny 30 - Leeds
Paynter 57 - Leeds
Hume 63 - Preston

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Deepdale is the next destination

Leeds travel across the Pennines to Preston this evening off the back of a thumping victory against Doncaster. Simon Grayson has introduced Barry Bannan to his squad for this encounter and is set to make his debut. Grayson has food for thought with Eric Lichaj, Andy O'Brien and Luciano Becchio carrying knocks. This could see the return of Paul Connolly and Alex Bruce, Grayson may hand a start to Billy Paynter who came within inches of scoring at the weekend.

Nobody will forget when these two sides met at Elland Road. It ended 6-4 in favour of Preston that night! Leeds conceded a 4-1 lead. Preston are rock bottom of the Championship but have performed well against promotion chasers of late. They have got points off Norwich, Nottingham Forest and league leaders QPR. United are yet to win a league match at night so far this term with a record of P10 W0 D5 L5. Preston are still searching for their first win under Phil Brown this season. Surely one of these records will end tonight!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Flying Scotsman

High flying Robert Snodgrass continues to be an integral part of Leeds' promotion charge. The winger watched from a far for the first month of the season because of injury but since returning he has been one of the most consistent performers for Grayson's side. Snodgrass signed from Livingston in 2008 and since then he has made 110 appearances scoring 22 goals. So far this term he has scored 7 goals, the most memorable came from the penalty spot at the Emirates against Arsenal in the FA Cup. He is yet to score a home goal this season however he has turned creator the most times for the Whites this season. His vision and raw talent has secured him the PFA Fans player of the month award for the second successive time.

Snodgrass has an incredible talent and goes past players with ease. Himself and Max Gradel have torn apart oppositions defences both players have contributed hugely to United being top goalscorers in the Championship this season. Snodgrass is one of the unsung hero's of the Leeds United ranks but that's just because his name is tricky! Snodgrass will be looking to record his 7th away league goal for Leeds at Deepdale tomorrow as they take on Preston.

Ramon Hits 4

Ramon Nunez is still trying to break into the first team squad at Elland Road and hasn't done his chances any harm by striking 4 goals against Lincoln City today. The Honduran has been an enigma at Elland Road and now has many wondering what he needs to do to get some game time? This reserve match also saw injured players Paul Connolly (Hamstring) and Lloyd Sam (Virus) get an hour of football under their belts. Congratulations to Ramon on his first hat-trick for Leeds.

Bannan Boost!

Leeds have swooped to sign Barry Bannan on-loan from Aston Villa until the end of the season. He has made 21 appearances for Villa. He impressed in the Premier League this year and has also played in the Europa League. He is only 21, however he carries a wealth of experience. Bannan made 24 appearances for Blackpool in their promotion campaign including stepping off the bench at Wembley during the Play-off final against Cardiff.

Leeds fans will be delighted to see a midfielder join up with strength and depth in that area being seriously scrutinised. He also caught the eye of his home nation, he played alongside Robert Snodgrass for Scotland against Northern Ireland in early February. Grayson has confirmed he will go straight into the squad for Tuesday's trip to Deepdale. A shrewd piece of business from Grayson to make Bannan a White and one that will hopefully give a boost to the entire squad as they strive for the higher echelon of the Premier League!

Leeds right back in the hunt

Leeds set this promotion chase to light on Saturday as they executed Doncaster! Pundits ruled Grayson's fighters out after a crushing defeat to Swansea but with Cardiff, Swansea and Nottingham Forest all losing and Norwich drawing Leeds have rocketed themselves right back into the hunt. At this stage of the season there are no easy games. Everybody is battling for something. QPR look to be running away with it now. Their victory over Leicester gave Leeds some breathing space. But Burnley and Hull are now the two sides in pole position to try and gate crash the Play-off spots.

Grand Stand finish at ER

Simon Grayson watched his side dispatch Doncaster for 5 on Saturday with Max Gradel and Skipper Jonny Howson both scoring braces. The Leeds Manager made two changes from the last game. Leigh Bromby came in for Alex Bruce to make his first start of the season. Bradley Johnson returned from suspension to replace Davide Somma in the starting eleven, this allowed Grayson to revert back to his preferred shape.

Leeds were given a firm reality check last Saturday as Swansea eased to a 3-0 win against the Whites. It was a different side who turned up at Elland Road for this Yorkshire derby. Leeds were playing with skill and freedom and generally looked to be enjoying their football. Robert Snodgrass and Gradel were wreaking havoc once again. It was Gradel who sent the Leeds fans into raptures after scoring a screamer from 25 yards. This was Gradel's 4th goal in 5 games and his 14th in the Championship this term.

United were having a flurry of chances and it was Neil Kilkenny who was the next to come closest when Snodgrass slotted him in but Kilkenny's timid effort was comfortably saved by Gary Woods. As good as Leeds were, Doncaster were sloppy. A mix up in midfield allowed Howson to slip in Luciano Becchio but the Argentine dragged his shot narrowly wide.

More flicks and clever play from the men in white saw Snodgrass get slipped through but the Scot lost his footing at the vital moment as he tried to round Woods. Rovers couldn't handle Snodgrass and Gradel, Howson was influential as well.

The Elland Road faithful were laughing, it should have been 5 or 6! Billy Sharp and Doncaster would have the last laugh of the first half however. Kasper Schmeichel's poor pass gave Rovers possession, John Oster's through ball over the top of the defence gave Sharp the chance to level the game totally against the run of play.

Leeds went into the break with mixed emotions. Grayson watched his side walk the first 44 minutes of the half before Sean O'Driscoll's side levelled. The second period started brightly for Leeds when Snodgrass cut inside and fired wide. Incredibly Rovers were in front after 49 minutes when Dean Shiels headed the ball into the path of Frank Moussa who tucked the ball past Schmeichel. It was a body blow! Leeds now ruing their missed chances. But not for long. Captain fantastic Jonny Howson wasn't going to let 3 points slip away. He fought hard to win the ball in midfield and then advanced to smash the ball home. United back on terms within a minute.

The atmosphere was now electric! The fans attitude had reached the players and the game was suddenly wide open. Schmeichel made a fantastic save after Sharp was released. It was only a matter of time for Leeds as Gradel was not through on goal once but twice. The first time he capitalised on an error from Paul Keegan, but the defender recovered to ensure the Ivorian's shot went just wide. Moments later Gradel was in acres of space after being threaded through by Howson but Woods saved well.

Grayson was preparing for Davide Somma to enter the fray to try and win the game but as he stripped off Snodgrass' cross was chested down by Leigh Bromby into the path of Becchio who side footed his side into the lead. 5 minutes later it wasn't Somma but Billy Paynter who came on in place of the goalscorer Becchio. Paynter who is still in search of his first goal for Leeds came within inches when he nearly converted Snodgrass' cross. Luckily the rebound fell to Gradel who tucked away United's fourth to compensate for his earlier missed chances.

Leeds weren't about to stop at that. Snodgrass was the creator once more when he send Howson through the middle to cap off a superb afternoon for the Whites. Comfortable for Leeds in the end, it wouldn't be a true Leeds performance without a few scares.

Att. 27,027
Leeds 5-2 Doncaster

Gradel 12 - Leeds
Sharp 45+1 - Doncaster
Moussa 49 - Doncaster
Howson 50 - Leeds
Becchio 74 - Leeds
Gradel 82 - Leeds
Howson 90 - Leeds

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Pivotal Yorkshire derby

Leeds entertain Doncaster on Saturday in a huge game at both sides. When these two sides met in September it ended in a stalemate. Davide Somma came closest that night for Leeds. Grayson will welcome back Bradley Johnson to his squad after serving his one match suspension. Grayson has ruled out Lloyd Sam who has been struck down with a virus. Paul Connolly will also miss out once again however he is close to a return.

Doncaster have been struck down by injury of late, but they travel to Elland Road today full of confidence after picking up a 3-1 win against Derby in midweek. Sean O'Driscoll will asses the fitness of Billy Sharp before today's match as well as several other first team players.

Leeds are the top goalscorers in the Championship this season which is worrying for Doncaster who have conceded the most goals in the League since the turn of the year. United are looking to secure their first win in four today after conceding a shocking 8 goals in their last three outings. Leeds will be pleased to be back at Elland Road, they are unbeaten in 11 home matches.

This is a huge game for Leeds after a crushing defeat to Swnasea last weekend. Some players have looked tired of late including players such as; Luciano Becchio and Robert  Snodgrass. I personally feel Grayson needs to ring the changes for today's match. Sanchez Watt and Ross McCormack both scored for the reserves at Hull midweek and could be in line for a starting spot. Grayson's squad selection has been very consistent throughout the season and the tired legs may be starting to show.