I don't feel like I've really had much chance to think about the Leeds match, which is unusual as it's one of the bigger games of the season. The fairly local nature of the match means that it normally has a little bit more bite to it than a normal Championship fixture. Leeds have had a good start and have only just suffered their first league defeat of the season. We are coming off the back of a very impressive win at Aston Villa, so the omens are looking positive for a good result for The Owls.
I recently posed a question on Owlstalk about whether the Leeds game has a more hostile atmosphere than the Blades fixture. In my personal experience, the Steel City Derby is intense and full blooded, but rarely nasty. Leeds matches on the other hand seem to have that extra bit of nastiness in them. My question did produce some interesting responses, and a few that were pretty funny as well. One of the first responses really made me laugh. The poster quoted part of my post, which read: "there is just something about the Leeds derby that gives it a hostile, almost nasty feel."
The response is below.
The discussion then turned to exactly what constitutes a "derby". I've always considered the Leeds game to be a local derby, based on how close we are geographically. Some people don't agree with that. It's not something I've ever really stopped to think about in too much detail; it's just one of those opinions I've had without really considering why.
This following exchange attempts to drill a bit deeper into what turns a normal football match into a derby.
For me, a derby is a match between local teams. The debate is over where you draw the line between local and non-local. Leeds is 35 miles away and I have always classed that match as a derby. Nottingham is just 38 miles away but I've never considered it to be a derby, nor Manchester which is also under 40 miles away. Huddersfield has never really felt like a derby despite them being 27 miles away. However, Doncaster is a derby in my opinion but they are 23 miles away. It's strange how these opinions are formed over time as a football fan.
The fans quoted above also seem to be of the opinion that there is something about the Leeds game that makes it a little more fiery than the Steel City Derby. The following quote, however, seems pretty indifferent towards the match, with the Steel City Derby being thought of as much more important.
The match itself will probably be quite entertaining. Leeds will want to bounce back with a win, and we will want to close the gap on the top teams before the rest of the division (bar the other Friday game) play. I don't see this match being a bore-draw. I think it will be a close game but with both teams scoring. We can't seem to keep a clean sheet at the moment, whereas Leeds have managed four clean sheets in the Championship. However, we have a great set of attacking options and with Forestieri once again available I am confident we will score at least one goal.
I posted before our September fixtures, that if we were seriously looking at a promotion push then we needed an absolute minimum of nine points from our five September fixtures. Going into the final fixture of the month we have seven points. The Stoke match was a real missed opportunity. Had we got a grip on the midfield early in the game we probably would have won the match. Those opening twenty-five minutes, when Stoke carved us open at will, cost us two points.
A win against Leeds will put us on 17 points from ten games, an average points-per-game rate that would see us on 78 points by the end of the season. I would take that now if offered, and I'm sure most Owls fans would also be delighted with finishing on 78 points. Win, lose or draw there is still a lot of football to be played after Friday. It would just be nice to not be playing catch up after less than a quarter of the season. My head tells me we don't have the strength in depth for a play-off push, but my optimistic heart is still saying we can do it.
My prediction for tomorrow night is a 2-1 win for The Owls with at least one red card.
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Critic. Writer. Thinker. Observer. Creator of nowwelive.com.