First plays second bottom at Elland Road where Leeds United host Luton Town for the first time for 13 years and a meeting in League One decided by Tresor Kandol’s winner. This author remembers more vividly a match in the spring of 1992 in the last First Division campaign when Lee Chapman returned after eight weeks out with a fractured wrist to score, as did Eric Cantona, and put Leeds’ charge for the title back on track. This author, to his chagrin, is old enough to recall a match from 1974, a 1-1 draw in September when newly promoted Town held the champions: it turned out to be Brian Clough’s last match as manager and two more days extended his reign to 44 until he was sacked.
I point this out only to say that in normal times I would recuse myself from covering this match in favour of the far more seductive attraction of watching it, these are not normal times, I’m on shift and I’m the only member of staff with a functioning iFollow subscription. I shall endeavour to be as professional and impartial as I would for any other live blog (understandable bias during the 2010-11 Ashes notwithstanding).
Leeds, having withstood Fulham’s impressively forceful first-half performance on Saturday to win 3-0 after Marcelo Bielsa’s insightful switches of tactics and personnel at half-time, are eight points clear of Brentford in third place. That was the exact lead they held over Newcastle in third in April 1990, the last time they were promoted to the top-flight. They frightened the life out of those following them with two draws and two defeats in those finals even games but when they needed to, with hardly any time left against Leicester at home in their penultimate match, they dug out victory and went on to win their final game to go up as second division champions. They will be desperate for it not to be so tight this time round. And, if Pablo Hernandez is fit to play in five of the last seven games, they ought to be OK.
As for Luton, unbeaten in five and with an excellent if ugly victory at Swansea on Saturday in the second match of their return and also the second match of Nathan Jones’ second spell as manager, they are three points behind Huddersfield in 21st. Only three teams go down this season and both the Terriers and Stoke are in striking distance if they can maintain this upturn in form. After this in the run-in they still have a home game against Barnsley (currently bottom), Huddersfield and Hull away (currently 21st and 22nd). It’s comfortably still in their hands and a team that has conceded a division high 72 goals have plugged the leaks in those last five games, letting in only three. Leeds, who have the meanest defence in the Championship, conceding 32, will be difficult to crack but no one with memories of their match against Wigan last season would dream of dabbling with hubris before it’s over.
We’ll be back with the teams at 6.45pm, when we’ll also fire up iFollow and, fingers crossed, it works.