COMMENT By Will Butcher
Elland Road is set to welcome its first sell-out crowd in six years on Sunday as Leeds take on Newcastle in a heavyweight Championship bout, but who makes their best combined XI?
Boasting an array of talent such as top scorer Dwight Gayle, captain Jamaal Lascelles and Holland international Vurnon Anita, Newcastle will be looking to consolidate their position at the top of the Championship.
Despite securing seven wins in their last eight domestic matches, Rafa Benitez’s men will face a tough test against the likes of Pontus Jansson, Chris Wood and Hadi Sacko.
Garry Monk’s men have secured nine wins in their last 12 league and cup encounters and now sit in a lofty sixth spot.
With both sides boasting a number of in-form stars, here is our best combined XI:
Neither Karl Darlow or Matz Sels can be considered the Toon’s outright number one between the sticks this term, but veteran England international Rob Green has proved that age is just a number with five clean sheets.
Skipper Lascelles lines up with Leeds fan favourite Jansson in defence in what would be a centre-back partnership that most Premier League attacks would struggle to break down.
In-demand left-back Charlie Taylor is chosen over Paul Dummett, while Jonjo Shelvey and Jack Colback are picked in midfield after dominating their Championship opponents this term.
Sporting Lisbon loanee Hadi Sacko has exploded onto the scene at Elland Road with some dazzling footwork and electrifying pace, while Yoann Gouffran has rejuvenated his Toon career under Benitez with four goals.
It’s a tough call between the likes of Pablo Hernandez, Mo Diame and Ayoze Perez to fill the number 10 role, but with six goals it is hard to look past Perez.
With little to separate both side’s attacking spearheads, summer signing Gayle has scored the same amount of goals in six less appearances than New Zealand international Wood.
It means Newcastle contribute seven players to Leeds’ four, but with a sell-out crowd behind them on Sunday, the Whites fans can even things out on the pitch.