Leeds United - Watford

After another disappointment in play-off and missed opportunity for promotion (lost vs. Millwall in semi-final 0-1), Leeds remain as one of the biggest favorites for promotion. New start looks impressive, four games, three league wins and one in cup. Before the transfer market started, major concerns were can club keep their young stars Fabien Delph and Jermain Beckford. Delph left the club and signed for Aston Villa, but Beckford, scorer of 34 goals last season in all competition and four goals in recent one stayed. All in Leeds take every opportunity to point they don’t belong in the third tier, accept it as a shame and tonight will have a nice opportunity to show it on the pitch against the opponent who comes from the league where Leeds should be. Also, all in the club certainly remembers their last meeting with the Hornets in Championship play-off final (2006). Leeds were looking for immediate return to Premier, but lost totally unexpected 0-3 and seems then the things definitely go wrong for them. Next season, team relegated to League One and stayed till these days. They’ll be fully motivated and I expect the best available eleven on the pitch. Boss Simon Grayson will once again be without left-back Ben Parker, who has missed the last four games because of a hamstring injury, while centre-back Richard Naylor (back) remains a long-term absentee. Leeds have been knocked out in the second round just once in last 14 years.

New season brought the same problems for the lads from Vicarage Road. Excellent manager Brendan Rogers left the club to take a charge in Reading and his replacement is Malky Mackay. Team also lost a striker Tamas Priskin (15 goals last season), while star striker Tommy Smith looks likely to be on his way out from the club before the transfer window shuts. Club signed few new players, worth of mentioning are striker Danny Graham (from Carlisle United) and loan duo Henri Lansbury and Tom Cleverley from Arsenal and Manchester United. I think, in the best case, team is equal with that from the last season. Which means tough battle to save the status in the second tier. And start in Championship doesn’t look too promising, as Watford have won only one of their four league games so far. So, they have bigger worries (saturday’s clash against Swansea, for example) than progress in cup competition. Mackay will probably rest his keys and give a chance to some fringe players. Mentioned Lansbury and Cleverley will have a debut as they have been given permission to play in the competition by parent clubs. The Hornets will surely be without key midfielder Jobi McAnuff (back injury) and striker Nathan Ellington (knee). Watford were last knocked out by lower league opposition two years ago when League One Southend eliminated them in the second round, while they needed extra-time to see off Barnet in the first round this year.

Leeds like to play against strong opponents. For them, it is the way to show the superiority. And for this encounter will have revenge as the additional reason. Top of the third league against bottom of the second. I think Watford need something really special if want to resist at Elland and see Leeds as the favorites here. Pinnacle offer 2.14. Home win.

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