Robert Earnshaw

Forest danger-man Robert Earnshaw

Leeds United head to the City Ground tomorrow to face Nottingham Forest in what will surely be one of the hardest tests of the season. Forest, like Leeds, lost their opening game of the Championship going down 1-0 to recently relegated Burnley. They will be hoping to make home advantage count against Leeds as they failed to get off the mark in the Carling Cup midweek losing 2-1 to Bradford City after extra time.

Nottingham Forest finished 3rd last season and missed out on promotion losing in the play offs to eventual winners Blackpool. They will be hoping to get a first win under their belt as they push for an automatic promotion place. Despite being underdogs for this game, Leeds should be positive going into it, after a good 4-0 win in midweek against Lincoln, it is arguably the best time to face such a test before Forest have gathered any momentum.

With Robert Snodgrass and Max Gradel still unavailable, Leeds will again be reliant on the abilities of Sanchez Watt and Lloyd Sam in wide positions while hoping lone striker Luciano Becchio can make it three goals in three games. The primary concern for fans will be the ability of the defence to deal with the threat posed by Forest forwards Robert Earnshaw and Dexter Blackstock who between them scored 30 league goals last season. It may be that Simon Grayson sticks with the younger Alex Bruce who came in for Richard Naylor in the heart of defence against Lincoln City.

Leeds will travel to Nottingham without the weight of expectation that became all too familiar over the last few seasons and it may be of some relief to both fans and players that Leeds are back facing bigger sides, who like Leeds, will see themselves as belonging in the Premier League.

Leeds United’s last trip to the City Ground was in August 2007 and ended in a 2-1 victory thanks to a late winner from Jermaine Beckford. This will be the 81st league meeting between the two teams, with both having won 26 a piece. Over 4000 Leeds fans will be making the trip to the East Midlands and will be hoping to see United pick up their first three points of the Championship season.

  • TSS

    Really hope he sticks with Alex Bruce at the centre of defence. Naylor was so far off the pace against Derby that I can see him getting annihilated by what has to be one of the best strikers in the Championship (Earnshaw).

    Being underdogs could be a good thing for Leeds. When no is expecting anything of us we often throw a couple of surprises into the mix (Champions League run, Old Trafford etc…)

    Either way, I’m looking forward to the first away trip of the season. Nottingham is usually a good day out, I just hope there’s a bar open to Leeds fans for the pre-match warm-up.

  • Christopher Gee

    Whilst I usually have a lot of faith in SGs team selections I do wonder whether he yet knows his strongest defensive line-up. Hopefully we don’t have to go through every back four permutation before arriving at our best one. Agree with TSS on Bruce vs Naylor but as the captain has declared himself fighting fit there is a test of loyalty for the the manager, which he may find difficult to call in our first away game at this level.

  • Tim Wilsom

    A basement battle for us already, Blackpool top of the Prem, Becks has two touches on his 20 min debut. Off topic but that’s my weekend summary.

  • kev cressey

    I’d like him to drop Johnson and play Bruce in the midfield holding role and play Naylor and Collins in defence,just think we need to get our first points on the board for confidence !

  • Raph

    I agree tss, naylor was ran ragged last week. To be honest i was slightly dissapointed when it first came out that naylor was captain again, he gives his all and cant fault him for that, but he just doesnt have the pace to keep on strikers at this level, he even struggled last season at times.

  • Will

    There is no doubt that it’s a huge season for Grayson to prove he has what it takes to be a consistently better than average manager.

    But to see Naylor’s continued selection (vs Derby) does not give me great confidence and sadly reminds me of Blackwell’s faith in Gregan & Butler.

    Also, his excuses for absent players and bigging up opponents (such as with Forest) gives me concerns and I fear Grayson will become a Blackwell Mark II.

  • Chareose

    If Naylor plays i think the key is to roar his name to the rafters….. The guy is a leeds supporter playing for the team he loves, you dont think he will feel ten times as much pain at his lack of pace etc…??? Yes he may need to be replaced long term but while he plays we need to get off the mans back, stop slagging him off – destroying his confidence and support a great servent to Leeds United……… cheers