MX23RW : Tuesday, June 22 08:41:25| >> :60:1607:1607:
Nov 30, 2019 at 3pm UK at Elland Road
Attendance: 35,626
LeedsLeeds United
Bamford (3'), Klich (45', 73'), Costa (67')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Preview: Leeds United vs. Middlesbrough - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between promotion-chasing Leeds and struggling Middlesbrough, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Leeds United will have the chance to move back to the top of the Championship table when they welcome struggling Middlesbrough to Elland Road on Saturday.

The match will see Boro boss Jonathan Woodgate return to his former club for the first time as a manager, but his side are heavy underdogs with 20 points separating the two teams in the table.

Match preview

Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa on September 28, 2019© Reuters

Eighteen matches into the season and the Championship promotion race is beginning to really take shape, with Leeds and West Bromwich Albion out in front in the automatic promotion places.

Leeds had briefly climbed back to the summit with a late 1-0 triumph at Reading on Tuesday night, but the Baggies' 4-1 win over Bristol City 24 hours later means that Marcelo Bielsa's side are once again playing catch-up going into this weekend.

West Brom are not in action themselves until Monday night - against a promotion-chasing Preston North End side that will demand a response from their own heavy defeat at Hull City in midweek - which means that victory for Leeds on Saturday would once again take them to the top of the pile.

The signs point towards them getting that win too; after a run of just two wins in seven games across all competitions from the end of August to the beginning of October, Leeds are now unbeaten in seven and have won each of their last four - their longest Championship winning run since last December.

Bielsa's side have also won their last four outings at Elland Road, which is the same number as they had managed in their previous 12 games in front of their own fans.

Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate gestures on October 23, 2019© Reuters

Central to that form has been the league's best defence with a Championship-high nine clean sheets and league-low 10 goals conceded, and most would back them to add to their tally of shutouts against the division's joint-worst attack.

Middlesbrough have found the back of the net just 16 times in their 18 outings this season, which is a major reason why they are deeply embroiled in a relegation battle.

Things have improved of late, though, with Boro scoring five goals in their last three games having only netted four in their previous nine before that.

Woodgate will make his return to Elland Road off the back of a rare win too, Ashley Fletcher scoring the only goal of the game in a basement battle against Barnsley in midweek as Middlesbrough climbed out of the bottom three.

Middlesbrough's Ashley Fletcher celebrates scoring their first goal against Barnsley on November 27, 2019© Reuters

Wednesday's win finally ended a 10-match wait for victory and was only their third three-point haul of the season, all of which have come at the Riverside.

Only Wigan Athletic and Barnsley have picked up fewer points on the road than Boro this term, so the Teessiders will need to upset the form book if they are to inflict a first home defeat on Leeds since August and their first win at the ground since 2011.

Given this season's form, Woodgate, who made 142 first-team appearances for Leeds after coming through the ranks, would no doubt take a repeat of the goalless draw these two sides shared at Elland Road last season.

Both teams would go on to battle for promotion as the 2018-19 season wore on, though, whereas this time around they go into the game with very different ambitions.

Leeds form: DDWWWW

Middlesbrough form: DDLDDW

Team News

Adam Forshaw in action for Leeds United on March 30, 2019© Reuters

Leeds will once again be without former Middlesbrough midfielder Adam Forshaw for this match, with Bielsa admitting in his pre-match press conference that there was no timescale on his recovery from a hip problem.

Tyler Roberts is also expected to miss the game after limping off just 34 minutes into the midweek win, although his withdrawal was thought to only be precautionary after he felt a twinge in his hamstring.

Eddie Nketiah could be in contention to feature as he continues his recovery from an abdomen injury, while Jamie Shackleton made his return as a 93rd-minute substitution at Reading.

Middlesbrough's win over Barnsley came at a cost, meanwhile, with Anfernee Dijksteel and Paddy McNair both picking up injuries which are likely to keep them out of this match.

Goalkeeper Darren Randolph is also expected to miss three weeks with a thigh injury, while Woodgate's options are further depleted by Marvin Johnson's suspension.

Captain George Friend is out until February, joining Ryan Shotton, Rudy Gestede and Marcus Browne in a crowded Middlesbrough treatment room.

Leeds possible starting lineup:
Casilla; Ayling, White, Cooper; Dallas, Phillips, Klich; Costa, Hernandez, Harrison; Bamford

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Pears; Howson, Ayala, Dry; Bola, Clayton, Wing, Tavernier, Coulson; Fletcher, Assombalonga

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Leeds 2-0 Middlesbrough

Leeds have not been blowing teams away of late, but they have been winning games and they should win this one too. The stats point towards a clean sheet, and that should be the basis for the promotion hopefuls to move top with a fifth straight victory.

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General view of Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium taken March 2018
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