What: English League Cup Fourth Round
Who: Leeds United vs Southampton
When: Tuesday 30th October, 2012, at 19:45 UK Time
Where: Elland Road, Leeds, England

Lack of Depth Cause for Leeds’ Concern

Birmingham City ended Leeds United’s seven game unbeaten run in the Championship at the weekend amid more takeover talk at Elland Road.

Leeds manager, Neil Warnock, will be desperate for GFH Capital to complete the process of buying the club from incumbent chairman Ken Bates, as it would potentially mean that he could bring in additional faces to pep up a threadbare squad that has been punching above its weight in recent weeks.

Despite the unbeaten run, Leeds are 10th in the Championship table and are struggling to get over the line and into the playoff places, their main aim this season.

In the League Cup, it is a different story. The Whites have beaten Shrewsbury Town, Oxford United and high-flying Everton to reach the fourth round and have played with the kind of freedom afforded to clubs who realistically know that winning the cup is beyond them.

Southampton will prove a tough test for Leeds, who will have to seize the initiative and take an early lead. If they go behind, Warnock will have few options on the bench to shake things up.

Saints Look to League Cup for Kick Start

Since returning to the Premier League, Southampton have found the going tough and have picked up just four points so far this season with a win over Aston Villa and a draw against Fulham.

The Saints are currently second bottom in the top flight and manager Nigel Adkins is quickly becoming the bookies’ favourite to lose his job, especially after suffering yet another defeat at the weekend against Tottenham Hotspur.

Despite their poor points return, Southampton have certainly not lost their reputation for playing attacking football and will hope that, when the breaks come, they will pick up enough points to stave off relegation.

A good cup run can often transfer into league form and both Southampton and Leeds United will be hoping this is the case for their respective campaigns if they can make progress in the League Cup.

Recent form

Leeds 0-1 Birmingham (27/10; Championship)
Leeds 1-1 Charlton (23/10; Championship)
Leeds 1-1 Sheffield Wednesday (19/10; Championship)

Southampton 1-2 Tottenham (28/10; Premier League)
West Ham 4-1 Southampton (20/10; Premier League)
Southampton 2-2 Fulham (07/10; Premier League)

Key absences

Leeds: Ross McCormack

Southampton: Jack Cork; Tadanari Lee

Players to Watch

Leeds – El Hadji Diouf: Former Premier League bad boy El Hadji Diouf was a surprise signing for Leeds in the summer. A target for jeering by the Elland Road faithful, his arrival was all the more surprising given the bad blood between the Senegal international and manager Neil Warnock, who once branded the player a ‘sewer rat’ during his days as QPR boss.

Diouf has been a revelation since arriving at Leeds and is now one of the first names on the team sheet every week. While whatever pace he had has deserted him, he still has quick feet and enough skill to cause any defence a headache.

Last time out in the League Cup, Everton found him unplayable and Warnock will be hoping for the same against a Southampton side that has shipped an alarming amount of goals since returning to the top flight.

Southampton – Rickie Lambert: Lambert was a one-time transfer target for Leeds United and from his goalscoring exploits at Southampton it is easy to see why the hierarchy at Elland Road once wanted the Liverpool-born hit man.

Lambert has scored goals in every division he has played in and is an archetypal English centre forward, powerful in the air but with a lethal shot. He likes scoring goals against Leeds and with the right service from wingers like Adam Lallana will cause problems for Warnock’s defence here.

Match Prediction

Leeds have had a torrid time in midweek games that goes back as far as last season, but despite this have beaten both Oxford and Everton in the League Cup on Tuesday nights, with these occasions seemingly proving the exception to the rule. The Whites have proven they can run and gun with Premier League opposition and for much of the match with Everton played their opponents off the park. Southampton will prove a tougher test for Leeds in some respects, with the two teams not worlds apart on paper.

The fourth round encounter will be a keenly fought contest and is unlikely to be a high-scoring affair. If Leeds take an early lead, it could see them go on a cup run that Warnock is famous for, but if they go behind they are unlikely to have the options on the bench to turn the match around and Southampton could claim a morale-boosting victory.

Leeds will relish the underdog role and in front of a home crowd should have enough momentum to secure a quarter-final berth and a potential big pay day against one of the Premier League’s heavyweights.

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