Disappointing results for Forest and Leeds at the weekend will give both sides the motivation to want to see an improvement at the City Ground tomorrow night. Whilst Forest perhaps as expected fell to Cardiff City, at Elland Road a more surprising result was Barnsley triumphing 201 over their Yorkshire rivals to continue their rather patchy home form of late.
Of course, the weekend results paled into insignificance a day later with the shock news that Gary Speed had passed away. As a mark of respect there will be a minute of applause before the game – and I know that the Leeds fans are planning their own ways to mark the passing of one of their former players.
Personally I prefer the solemn dignity of a silence, but as the news was still fresh at Swansea vs Villa a planned silence erupted into spontaneous applause, and it was very moving – so perhaps following that lead is appropriate. A real sad loss to the game. In addition to the applause both sets of players will don black armbands in his memory.
After a relative period of stability of starting elevens, it is – in my view – time for Steve Cotterill to consider shifting things around. Given Paul Anderson is fit for me it’s time to utilise him rather than wasting Chris Gunter on the wing, this gives him a dilemma over the skipper – but frankly, it would be more harsh to drop Wes or Lynchy, so for me it would be Luke to make way.
In midfield Lewis has demonstrated ably that a left winger he is not – if Reid isn’t fit to last a game then start him there, or possibly Raddy who made more of an impression in that position, giving an opportunity to put McGugan in the middle. For me, Greening would be the one to miss out. I don’t have too much issue with Tudgay or Findley, although Dexter champing at the bit to come back presents a tempting option – albeit perhaps a little too soon.
As for Leeds – well, they’re a pretty potent force on the road of late so will certainly present a challenge. Simon Grayson has both O’Dea and Pugh returning from fitness to bolster his options. They’ve notched wins in their last two away games – at Leicester and Burley – and lost the home game before that against Blackpool. So they are threatening consistency on the road and at home, albeit in different ways!
Further portents of gloom are that we’ve not beaten Leeds in our last ten attempts – indeed, 1995-96 was our last win over them when we managed to do the double over them. Should you want any further misery piling on to any optimistic thoughts you might be harbouring, the referee for this fixture is Darren Deadman – the man who single-handedly cocked up our game against Preston last season with a ridiculously incompetent showing.
I’m expecting a tough challenge from Leeds, they’ll have a decent and vociferous following as ever – but hopefully the recent resilience we’ve shown at home will come to the fore and see us meet that challenge head on. Even with us dropping to within a point of the drop zone again and really needing to kick on with some points on the board, it’s hard to get too wound up by matters on the pitch in the wake of such awful news regarding Gary Speed.
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