Noel Whelan has hailed Leeds United’s Championship clash against Birmingham tomorrow (Saturday) as a “huge game” but predicted the visitors will have to settle for a draw.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side head to St Andrews for the showdown against former manager Garry Monk’s side well placed at second in the table as they stay in contention for automatic promotion.
But Leeds have already lost once to Birmingham this season, when they fell to a 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture at Elland Road in September.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, Whelan predicted a tough afternoon for Leeds at St Andrews.
“This is a huge game but Birmingham are going to be a very difficult side for Leeds to beat,” Whelan said. “Garry Monk sets his team up very organised and hard to beat. His plan worked perfectly at Elland Road and you can bet they will set up in the same way tomorrow. On the defensive side of the game, Monk is very good.
“For Leeds, this will probably be a bit tougher than the Millwall match. Birmingham have a very good group of players and a real dangerman in Che Adams.
“I think it will be a 1-1 draw, because Birmingham will restrict the space for Pablo Hernandez to play and for Mateusz Klich to get in behind. They are also so desperate to avoid relegation after their points deduction.”
Birmingham are a monumental 35 points adrift of Leeds in the league table but would be nine points and four places higher had they not been penalised for financial reasons.
Bielsa revealed at his media conference yesterday he has a full squad to select from apart from Barry Douglas, who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
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