Finally, after a long 3 month sabbatical, football returns this Saturday with the televised visit of recently relegated Burnley. It’s been the calmest summer in many years as Uwe Rosler was appointed early in the summer and we’ve recruited strategically and sensibly, bringing in the likes of Bamba, Wood and Dallas to strengthen the starting XI.

The 2015/16 season kicks off with a tough test against an organised Burnley side with a good manager in Sean Dyche, but with a good crowd expected and a wave of cautious optimism sweeping across Leeds, we’ve every chance of coming away with a win. Burnley come off the back of a season in the Premier League in which they comfortably had the smallest budget in the league, and Dyche spent his pre match press conference talking about the level of investment in the Championship, “I am absolutely amazed at some of the wage deals that people are now signing in the Championship – I’m stunned. They are way beyond what we were paying in the Premier League and we thought we were paying pretty well.” Middlesbrough have spent £7 million on Stewart Downing, and bid £14 million for Jordan Rhodes, while derby have spent in the region of £10 million this summer.

Burnley’s squad has changed since the end of last season, losing key players in Danny Ings and Kieran Trippier, replacing them with Jelle Vossen and Matt Lowton respectively, although Lowton is not expected to be fit for the opening day. During their promotion season 2 years ago, Burnley played with a lot of width and their full backs supported high up the pitch, while naming the same starting XI almost all the way through the season, so you’d expect Dyche to operate in much the same way. Leeds now have width themselves, with Uwe Rosler’s 4-3-3/4-5-1 (depending on how you look at it) operating with 2 wingers in Dallas and Byram, and two competent full backs in Taylor and Berardi, who could be busy on Saturday.

Leeds man to watch is Chris Wood, the New Zealand international is United’s first genuine Centre Forward since Luciano Becchio, and looks a big physical presence who will be keen to get off the mark early. Burnley’s man to watch is Jelle Vossen, a creative forward player who is technically proficient, he has made 12 appearances for Belguim, and he will be a key player for Burnley as Danny Ings replacement, and could cause Sol Bamba and Guisseppe Bellusci a few problems.

Previous meetings with Burnley have garnered positive results, at one point Leeds won 5 consecutive games against Burnley, often coming from behind, scoring late goals and generally winning in dramatic circumstances. But Burnley won the last two meetings 2-1 as they marched towards promotion, although much has changed since the two sides last met, Leeds have had 5 different managers since the two sides last met (McDermott, Hockaday, Milanic, Redfearn and Rosler) and the shape of the squad has changed drastically too. Signing players such as Sol Bamba, Chris Wood and Stuart Dallas has been a good summer of recruitment for Leeds, while Burnley have changed much too, although you’d expect their style will be similar as it’s worked for Dyche well, and they’ll be hard working and utilise the wings.

Previous meetings have generated good atmospheres, as a healthy rivalry has developed between the two sides, a rivalry which the Whites have tended to have the better of. With a crowd in the region of 29,000 expected and a decent away following from Burnley too, it should be a good game, and with the chance of winning early and gaining momentum for the next few games could be crucial, particularly with Cellino’s reputation for ‘manager-eating’. Cellino seems to have mellowed slightly this summer, though that is probably due to his absence and the presence of Executive Director Adam Pearson, either way it can only be good for the future of the club, and with Cook, Byram, Taylor and Mowatt all featuring in the side once again, things are looking positive. Burnley are slight favourites in the betting market, but home advantage and a competitive side should even out the odds, and a good atmosphere could boost our chances.

By Calum Archibald (@CalumArchie

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