This time last year our neighbours from up the M1 were fighting for the right to play in the Premiership, while the Owls were battling to retain their Championship status – how times change.
Brian Laws has steered Wednesday to mid-table safety since his arrival this term, while the addition of Dennis Wise to the Leeds managerial ranks hasn’t helped the Whites as they remain bottom of the table and in serious danger of playing third-tier football next season.
So we’re all set for a cracker at Elland Road tomorrow – with Leeds failing to score and Wednesday without a clean sheet in 2007, something has to give. It’s a must win game for Leeds, for an Owls victory could give Wednesdayites the bragging rights of a derby victory – and putting another nail in the Leeds United coffin.
Brian Laws said:
‘It’s one I am really looking forward to. I am relishing the prospect of going to Elland Road. We know that they are in trouble at the bottom of the league but it’s our priority to get points and take points off Leeds.’
Dennis Wise said:
‘You can’t put it on one individual. It’s a collective thing. We will try and beat Sheffield Wednesday. If the players give me what they give I’ll have no arguments, and what I need is the finishing to happen.
‘I’m still confident, some people may think I’m mad, but I’m confident of the lads we’ve got. We’ve got to do the same as at Birmingham and get a result.
‘They’ll bring a lot of fans and it’ll be a good atmosphere. It’ll be nice to have another good crowd and it’ll be a good game.
‘The lads are looking forward to it and go into it feeling quite confident. We’ve had a good look at them and hopefully we can create chances and finish them off.’
Leeds United Team News:
United’s problems took a turn for the worse this week with boss Dennis Wise having just 17 players to select from ahead of the clash on Saturday.
Leeds have a bigger squad than most in the Championship, but will have similar problems to the Owls at the back with goalkeeper Casper Ankergren missing out with a hamstring injury – Graham Stack will continue to deputise in between the sticks.
Full-back Armardo Sa was brought back in to the Leeds team for the midweek defeat at Birmingham, but it seems it was a game too soon for the defender who further aggrivated his hamstring strain and will miss out against the Owls tomorrow.
Former Wednesday striker Richard Creswell is sure to want to repeat his double goal blitz against the Owls from last season as he made the step up to full fitness after featuring at St Andrew’s in midweek. Cresswell could partner David Healy in attack but Wolves loanee Jemal Johnson will be pushing for a start following his arrival from Molineux.
Meanwhile, midfielder Alan Thompson (calf), Tore Andre Flo (broken foot), Shaun Derry (Achilles) and Gary Kelly (ankle) all remain sidelined, as do Robbie Elliott and Stephen Crainey.
Player to watch: Robbie Blake
United may not be freescoring this season – in fact, they haven’t scored a goal in four games – but their bigest threat will come through former Birmingham hitman Robbie Blake. Blake has been the main man in the Leeds attack this term, and Wednesday will be keen not to concede any set-pieces around the box.
Wednesday Team News:
Wednesday will be without defender Graham Coughlan who has been allowed on compassionate leave by boss Brian Laws following the death of his younger brother in Dublin.
The news could mean West Brom loanee Steve Watson returns to the centre of defence alongside Lee Bullen with Kenny Lunt or Yoann Folly coming in to the Owls midfield. But Laws has also revealed that Peter Gilbert could return to the side at left-back, allowing Tommy Spurr to move to the centre of defence.
Laws has also insisted he would have no problem throwing Richard Wood back in to the Owls defence following almost a year on the sidelines. Wood featured for the reserves in midweek in his step-up to full fitness.
Laws will also have a selection headache in the attack, with Steve Maclean staking his claim for a start at Elland Road following his last-minute winner against Southend last week. Eyebrows had been raised at the exclusion of the Scot, and he could move in to replace Marcus Tudgay.
Player to watch: Tommy Spurr
The youngster will be playing against his hometown club for the first time at Elland Road and will be keen to throw Leeds deeper in to relegation trouble with his friends and family in the stands in West Yorkshire. Found the going tough against Seb Carole in the reverse fixture last August but has bags more experience under his belt this time around.
Match Facts & Stats
Wednesday 0-1 Leeds – Hillsborough, 27/08/06
Wednesday were left to rue missed chances as a dubious David Healy penalty in the second half gave Kevin Blackwell’s Leeds side all three points in front of the Sky cameras on August Bank Holiday weekend. Referee Steve Bennett controversially sent Brad Jones off for a challenge on David Healy – which appeared to be outside the box, and the Northern Irish international converted to give the visitors the victory.
Wednesday: Turner, Bullen, Coughlan, Simek, Spurr, Whelan, Brunt (Clarke 74), Watson, Johnson, Tudgay, Burton (MacLean 78). Subs Not Used: Adamson, Graham, Folly.
Leeds: Stack, Richardson, Rui Marques, Heath, Lewis, Howson (Moore 60), Nicholls, Douglas, Blake (Armando Sa 57), Healy (Johnson 67), Cresswell. Subs Not Used: Einarsson, Carole.
Derby v Colchester
Barnsley v Norwich
Burnley v Crystal Palace
Coventry v Hull
Ipswich v QPR
Leeds v Sheff Wed
Luton v Wolverhampton
Plymouth v Stoke
Southend v Leicester
West Brom v Sunderland
Birmingham v Cardiff
Preston v Southampton
Vs Plymouth Argyle (H) – 06/03/07
Vs QPR (A) – 10/03/07
Vs Colchester (H) – 13/03/07