Leeds United can continue their rampant recent run by picking up a fourth straight win in all competitions at home to Preston North End on Sunday afternoon, with the Whites having romped to three successive 3-0 victories in January so far.
The Yorkshire side’s most recent Championship encounter saw them breeze past Cardiff City in commanding fashion, with a resurgent Patrick Bamford getting himself on the scoresheet for the third game running to kick things off in the Welsh capital.
The positivity surrounding Daniel Farke and his charges has only been heightened even further this week amid the news that teenage sensation, Archie Gray has signed a new ‘long-term’ deal at Elland Road, a move that should hopefully ward off any circling suitors who are keeping tabs on the 17-year-old.
Following that recent contract extension, the versatile youngster is likely to keep his place in the starting XI at right-back for the visit of Ryan Lowe’s side, with Farke unlikely to tweak his side too heavily for tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off…
GK – Illan Meslier
Illan Meslier will be hoping to avoid a repeat of his headloss during the defeat to Preston just a few weeks ago, with the promising Frenchman seeing red after lashing out at Milutin Osmajic.
Having subsequently served a three-game suspension, the 23-year-old made a smooth return to action at Cardiff last weekend, forced into making just a solitary save in that comfortable triumph, as per Sofascore.
RB – Archie Gray
The in-demand talent could cap off a fine week with another solid showing tomorrow, having firmly established himself as a key player under Farke after making 28 appearances in all competitions already this season.
He will, however, need to improve upon his prior showing against Lowe’s men, having lost the ball on 14 occasions and won just three of his 13 duels in that frustrating loss.
CB – Joe Rodon
They say not to fall in love with a loan player, yet Joe Rodon is certainly making it difficult for Leeds supporters, having been a rock-solid presence at the heart of the defence ever since his summer arrival from Tottenham Hotspur.
Part of a Welsh core in Farke’s squad, the one-time Swansea City man has impressed to such an extent that the club are reportedly working on a deal to sign him permanently – a move that would certainly go down well at Elland Road.
CB – Liam Cooper
One possible tweak that Farke could make is to welcome back experienced skipper, Liam Cooper, into the fold, with the former Norwich City boss revealing that the Scotland international is likely to be available for selection once again, following a recent stint out with injury.
While there have been reports that the 32-year-old could join Luke Ayling in leaving the club in the near future, the £25k-per-week ace remains a real “rock” at the back – as per Ayling – and seemingly still has a role to play between now and the end of the season.
LB – Junior Firpo
The injury-prone full-back was forced off late on against the Bluebirds, although having merely suffered a dead leg, the expectation is that he will be fit to feature once again.
Having only recently provided two assists in the commanding win over Birmingham City, the former Barcelona man should well keep his place ahead of the returning Sam Byram.
CM – Ethan Ampadu
Amid the absence of Cooper and Pascal Struijk of late, Ethan Ampadu has been utilised in a centre-back role in recent games, even providing two goals and an assist from that defensive berth in the FA Cup win over Peterborough United.
That being said, there may be a desire to see the one-time Chelsea man reinstated in his usual midfield role, with the 23-year-old notably starring against Ipswich Town last month, leading BBC journalist Adam Pope to say of his performance: “I haven’t seen a better defensive midfield display in the Championship this season.”
Ampadu’s return to the centre of the park would then spell bad news for Ilia Gruev, with the summer signing likely to be the man to give way despite his 8/10 performance against a hapless Cardiff side – as per LeedsLive journalist Beren Cross.
CM – Glen Kamara
Described as a ‘wrecking ball’ by Cross following the latest win, the former Rangers man is certainly growing into his role at Elland Road, having also been simply “imperious” last time out – according to the aforementioned Pope.
Signed for a fee of just £5m, the Finland ace is making that price tag look like more of a bargain with each passing week.
RM – Daniel James
Now a nailed-on starter in Farke’s side, Daniel James netted his ninth goal of the season last weekend, tapping home into an empty net following a Crysencio Summerville cutback.
Leeds gem who had fewer touches than Meslier was “superb” vs Cardiff
The Whites strolled to a convincing win on the road to maintain their automatic promotion bid.
With six assists also to his name in that right-wing berth, the 26-year-old appears to be loving life back in the second tier.
CAM – Georginio Rutter
Given the nod ahead of Joel Piroe once again in that number ten berth, the fleet-footed Frenchman was at the heart of everything last time out, providing two key passes, winning ten duels and rounding off the win with a composed finish late on.
Now with 14 goals and assists to his name this season, the former Hoffenheim man is beginning to repay his rather hefty £35.5m transfer fee.
LM – Crysencio Summerville
Despite the devastating brilliance of both James and Georginio Rutter, it is Summerville who continues to lead the charge for the Yorkshire giants, racking up 12 goals and seven assists in the league already this season.
While that sparkling form has unsurprisingly sparked Premier League interest – namely from Aston Villa – the dazzling Dutchman will hopefully stay put this month to help aid Leeds’ push for automatic promotion.
ST – Patrick Bamford
It has been a wretched few years for the Englishman ever since scoring 17 top-flight goals in 2020/21, having followed that up with just six league goals across the last two seasons, while also starting the current campaign in muted fashion.
Prior to this month, the 30-year-old hadn’t scored in 2023/24, yet now fit and firing again, his tally stands at three goals and one assist from just his last four appearances.
Only a fool would not back Bamford to continue that hot streak against Preston tomorrow…
Leeds’ predicted lineup in full vs Preston: Gk – Meslier; RB – Gray, CB – Rodon, CB – Cooper, LB – Firpo; CM – Ampadu, CM – Kamara; RM – James, CAM – Piroe, LM – Summerville; ST – Bamford