After misadventures on the road Leeds United will be hoping a return to home soil will do the trick to get them back on track this Saturday.
Back to back defeats at Newport and Ipswich have threatened to derail the Whites’ season especially with their extra cost coming in the shape of red cards for Samuel Saiz and Eunan O’Kane that have robbed them of key players.
After Saiz was sent-off and subsequently banned for six matches for spitting at a Newport player O’Kane became the fifth Leeds player red carded this season when he made contact with his head on Ipswich player Jonas Knudsen close to referee Robert Jones.
There was not enough contact to make Knudsen lay on the floor, spark out, apparently hurt. He stayed down long enough for the United player to walk off then carried on with no apparent side effects from his supposed headbutt, which underlines the lack of real malice, but the action of moving his head towards the Ipswich player was enough to get the Leeds man in trouble and Leeds did not bother appealing the ban.
The upshot is a three-match suspension at a time when Saiz is also unavailable and when another midfield talent, Ronaldo Vieira, is struggling with injury.
A real midfield crisis could be just round the corner with Kalvin Phillips now also only one booking away from a suspension following his yellow card at Ipswich.
Whatever side they are able to put out, Leeds, meanwhile, will have revenge on their mind this Saturday when they host Millwall.
Thomas Christiansen suffered his first defeat after nine matches unbeaten as head coach when United lost 1-0 to the Lions back in September so will not want a repeat, especially with the Whites having lost three of their last four matches and only scored one goal in their last six-and-a-half hours of football.
They obviously need to rediscover their goal touch quickly with all their strikers in real need of a boost. Kemar Roofe has gone off the boil after a successful spell playing as a lone frontman, Pierre-Michael Lasogga is not shy of getting efforts in on goal but has not scored since October 31 and Jay-Roy Grot looks nowhere near scoring.
Another striker, Oliver Sarkic, signed a deal with the club last week, but at 20 years old is seen more as one for the future.
The current failings of the forwards has led to continued speculation that United will look to bring in a new striker in this month’s transfer window.
Among the names linked with a move to Elland Road are Leicester’s Leonardo Ulloa, Peterborough’s Jack Marriott, Preston’s Jordan Hugill and Derby’s Chris Martin, but the club are keeping cards close to their chest on potential signings and how much money there is for newcomers with wages a potential stumbling block to bring in proven players.
Around £1.5 million was splashed out last week on left-back Laurens De Bock from Brugge and he could make his debut against Millwall after being unavailable for the Ipswich trip.