A sell-out crowd will welcome the visit of Benitez’s Newcastle at Elland Road this weekend, the first of its kind for six years. It is one of the most hotly anticipated fixtures of the season due to the historic rivalry between the two clubs, and looks set to be a fiery affair.
Leeds United – Factfile
Nickname: The Whites
Stadium: Elland Road (37,890 capacity)
Head Coach: Garry Monk
2015-16: Championship, 13th
Major Honours: First Division (1968-69, 1973-74, 1991-92), FA Cup (1971-72), League Cup (1967-68)
Pontus Jansson – CB – Bruising enforcer Jansson is a tall, tough-tackling Swede who has become a firm favourite at Elland Road for his valiant defensive performances. Signed only on loan, Jansson previously plied his trade in Serie A with Torino and in his homeland with Swedish Champions, Malmo FF. Jansson has been capped by the Swedish national team on nine occasions and with a host of top displays, looks set to add to that tally.
Kemar Roofe – LW/ST – One of the standout performers in the EFL last season for Oxford United, Roofe was snapped up by Leeds in the summer as he looks to make his way up the Football League pyramid. The £3m man signed a four-year deal and at only 23, has potential to grow into becoming a quality player.
Hadi Sacko – RW – French youth international Sacko joined on loan from Portuguese giants Sporting Clube de Portugal as he aims to continue his development. Monk has assembled a young squad at Elland Road this campaign and Sacko fits the bill at only 22. The winger is an explosive, pacey attacking player with an impressive engine and causes even the top Championship defences problems.
Lewis Cooke – CM – Midfield metronome Cook was one of Leeds’ hottest young prospects and impressive players over the past few seasons. However, Bournemouth parted with £7m to acquire his services in the summer transfer window, for the man who despite being just 19, had already made 85 first team appearances for The Whites.
Mirco Antenucci – ST – Many Leeds fans will agree that watching Antenucci was a task at times due to his tendency to be on hot form for a few weeks, before going missing from action for an extended period of time. Antenucci managed 19 goals in a Leeds shirt during his time at Elland Road and averaged a goal once every four games before being released in the summer. Frustrating at times, but oddly reliable when it came to popping up with a goal or two when it mattered, Antenucci’s influence will be missed by some, and not by others.
Chris Wood – ST – Leeds United’s resident New Zealander has been a prolific force in front of goal for The Whites, averaging a goal almost once every two games, which is an excellent record despite the managerial and boardroom turmoil that has seen the turnover of a number of different manager in the short space of time he’s been at the club. Wood is a stocky, abrasive forward who isn’t afraid to use his weight in the penalty area, a difficult one to contain.
Charlie Taylor – LB – Full-back Taylor is a youth-team graduate at Elland Road and has racked up 90 first team appearances since his debut in 2011. Taylor claimed the 2015-16 Leeds United Player of the Year Award for a number of stellar defensive displays. Taylor also has a tendency to get forward on occasion and is known for being adept at crossing for teammate Chris Wood.
Robert Green – GK – Veteran goalkeeper Robert Green needs little introduction to many football fans, as the former England international has played for a number of clubs across the country in the Premier League and the Championship including Norwich City, West Ham and QPR. Now at age 36, Green is approaching the twilight of his career but will still be a key character and figure in Monk’s dressing room which is full of youthful talent.
Last Six Results
Derby County 1-0 Leeds United – 15/10/16
Leeds United 1-1 Wigan Athletic – 18/10/16
Wolves 0-1 Leeds United – 22/10/16
Leeds United 3-2 Norwich City (AET) – EFL Cup – 25/10/16
Leeds United 2-0 Burton Albion – 29/10/16
Norwich City 2-3 Leeds United – 5/11/16
Manager – Garry Monk
Monk is best known for his time at the helm of Welsh club Swansea City, guiding them to a number of impressive finishes in the Premier League. Only his second job in management but with a wealth of experience from a career climbing the Football League, Monk knows what it takes to grind out results in what is described as the toughest division in England, having gained promotion with Swansea in 2011 as a player. Monk is known for his tough-talking approach and expects the very best from his players, not afraid to fall out with the occasional member of the squad who he feels is not performing well enough. This could translate well in his young Leeds squad who will be aiming to impress their new boss who has guided them currently to a place in the Play-Offs, a position that infamous owner Massimo Cellino would be more than happy with at the end of the season. Whether Monk manages to keep his job for that long before the Italian chairman swings the axe, remains to be seen.