14th January 2008
Leeds and Sky Sports are welcomed to Gresty Road for Monday night football as the Alex face possibly their toughest home game so far this season.
With Leeds United sitting sixth in the table on 40 points, it's almost easy to forget that they started the season on -15 points after their well publicised not-quite-cheating. Had they not had a points deduction they would be currently eight points clear at the top, so I don't think many can disagree that we will be playing the outstanding team of the season on Monday night.
Their recent form has been a bit more patchy than it was in the first quarter of the season, but still not to be scoffed at. Only three wins in their last six games (ok, we'd love that sort of form...) has seen their quick rise up the table halted. Those six games have seen defeats against Oldham and league leaders Swansea, plus draws against Walsall and Hartlepool. So maybe now is agood time to be playing them - if there is such a thing.
Whilst we see Steve Holland and the completely invisible Dario Gradi mess about with transfers, allowing four players to slip through the net in four days, Dennis Wise has been busy at the market. Just this month has seen Leeds bring in Peter Sweeney from Stoke, Bradley Johnson from Northampton for £250,000 and Neil Kilkenny from Birmingham... clearly a lot easier when you are allowed to spend the money you don't have. We can expect most of their new signings take to the pitch on Monday night - great.
We can also welcome Sky Sports to Gresty Road. The multi-billion pound corporation have been kind enough to give us our annual game on TV. We'll clearly take second billing to the massive Leeds United on the night but hopefully the revenue from the television can be put to good use on maybe another painting at Reaseheath.
Steve Holland told the official site that it'll be a tough game, but the team will be up for it;
'I think they are the best side in the League. They have proved it because if it wasn't for their points deduction they would have been well clear of the rest. They have won the most games and we know it is going to be a tough match, but it is one we have all been looking forward too ever since the fixtures came out.'
Crewe Alexandra Team News:
Crewe only have one injury concern in Billy Jones, who is ruled out for the next 6 or 8 weeks. Having so far failed to secure a replacement left back, the position could pose problems with one of the centre halves having to cover, presumably Chris McCready.
Player to watch: Danny Woodards
Let's just hope he's not in his final month at Gresty Road.
Leeds United Team News:
Dennis Wise wants to keep changes to a minimum despite four signings since Leeds' last game. New signing Darren Kenton looks set to start a centre back with Rui Marques away on international duty, but other new comers may have to settle for a place on the bench.
Possible 11? - Ankergren, Richardson, Kenton, Huntington, Parker, Prutton, Hughes, Kilkenny, Westlake, Beckford, Flo
Player to watch: Jermaine Beckford
Did us at Gresty Road last season whilst on loan at Scunthorpe, expect little less this time round. The league's top scorer could be our undoing - I say could, it's almost certain.
Match Facts & Stats
The two sides have met 5 times in their history and so far it's all square with two wins a piece and one draw.
The most memorable for Alex fans will be New Years Day 2005 when Dean Ashton helped us to a 2-0 win at Elland Road and we rose to 7th in the table. Just a shame it's been all down hill ever since.
A defeat wouldn't be a surprise, but I hope the team turn it on if only for this game. Would 1-1 be optimistic?
Carlisle away, 19th January 2008.