For once the pressure’s off United
Since their dramatic and (for onlookers) amusing fall from grace Leeds have had a huge amount of pressure on them to succeed, and for the last few years have not really lived up to expectations.
That seems to have changed since Simon Grayson took over the reins from Gary McAllister, as the Whites have been playing some great football in 2009 and their defence has really tightened up after so many points were dropped from individual errors in the early part of last season.
This turnaround in form has led to United being installed as favourites to win League One and finally get on the road to recovery, and to playing the likes of Tuesday's Carling Cup opponents Liverpool on a more regular basis.
At the minute you have to say that Leeds have every chance of getting at least half way there and to the Championship; they currently sit top of the league having seen their previous joint leaders Charlton throw away a two goal lead at Norwich on Saturday to draw, the Addicks visit Elland Road at the start of October and even at this early stage of the season that could be a massive game in the League One title race.
This match at Elland Road, in front of a full house, will be a good test for Grayson's team to see what they could be up against in the next few seasons. It will more than likely be a test that they will fail but you can bet your bottom dollar that Grayson would rather lose on Tuesday night than on Saturday in their next league fixture at MK Dons.
These two sides have thrown up some memorable games over the years; many moons ago newly promoted Leeds entertained then champions Liverpool who were leading 4-0 at half-time before the hosts mounted a brilliant comeback but eventually lost 4-5, having a goal disallowed in the process.
Then there was the Mark Viduka show, when Liverpool again went in ahead at the break by two goals to one before the big Aussie scored all four Leeds goals in a 4-3 win. Unfortunately for the Whites that win was an extremely rare one in the Premier League as Liverpool normally dominated the fixture both in Yorkshire and on Merseyside.
It looks like that story will continue again in the Carling Cup as the hosts are big outsiders in the betting at odds 14/5, perhaps not as big as they could've been if it weren't for their outstanding home record of 15 consecutive league wins on home turf. The draw, which is what Leeds did in their previous Carling Cup match before beating Watford in extra time, is 5/2 and the visitors are 8/11 to make it through to the 4th round.
For Leeds their biggest threat will come from Jermaine Beckford who scored an incredible 34 goals in 37 starts last season in all competitions - the number nine is well worth a punt at 6/1 for the first goal just for the sake that you will not see him at a bigger price all season, even if you don't think United will win or for that matter take the lead, 7/4 for him to score at any time will surely appeal.
It's not just about Beckford though, midfield man Bradley Johnson is on good goal scoring form having notched five goals in eight league appearances so far this season - he's an attractive looking 14/1 to pounce first in this match and 11/2 just to bag one at any point of the 90 minutes.
It's difficult to predict what sort of team Liverpool will put out as in previous Carling Cup campaigns the big guns haven't come out until the latter stages of the competition but I would've thought the likes of Andriy Voronin (9/2 to strike first) and David Ngog (5/1) will get some minutes under their belt so they could be the most likely contenders for Rafa's Reds, Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres will more than likely be sat watching this one from the bench, or even at home.
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