Leeds United travel to the New York Stadium to face Rotherham this Saturday afternoon, in an important game for both sides for different reasons.
Leeds sit in 13th place with 47 points, their season virtually over as they are too far from both the play-offs and the relegation zone. However, you would expect both the fans and players to be up for this South vs West Yorkshire derby.
Rotherham, on the other hand, have plenty to play for, sitting just two clear of the relegation zone, hoping that they will be able to gain another three points in their quest to play in the second tier next term.
The Millers are receiving positive news from their treatment room, with Richard Wood, Danny Ward and Jerome Thomas being in the picture to return from their latest injury setbacks.
Leeds are assessing Mustapha Carayol, with the winger picking up a knock whilst on international duty with Gambia. Liam Cooper has also returned from his three match absence.
With that in mind, here are THREE things to look out for in Saturday’s Yorkshire derby:
1) Can Rotherham continue their amazing run?
Unbeaten in five league matches, and importantly four of them being victories, Rotherham are looking up and it is remarkable to think that not too long ago it looked as if they were dead certain to drop into Sky Bet League One.
Since sacking Neil Redfearn at the beginning of February, where Rotherham were cut adrift in the bottom three, Neil Warnock has managed to claw back that gap and overtaken MK Dons and Fulham in the process.
A key reason to this improvement of form has to be their defence – in their last six games they have conceded five goals – and one of those games was a 3-3 draw with Derby. That means they’ve kept three clean sheets over that time, a highly impressive turn around.
With the appointment of Warnock, you would expect his first ploy to be tightening the defence, and his first step to survival has certainly worked. Can he continue to lead the Millers to safety?
2) A big game for Steve Evans’s future?
It almost seems as if there is a new rumour about the Leeds boss’s future every week. Whilst he most certainly IS in charge for Saturday’s Yorkshire derby, how much longer it will be before he pays the price for his team’s inconsistency is unknown.
And whilst controversial owner Massimo Cellino has publicly backed the manager, you do feel that his patience is, again, wearing thin.
After going five games without a win earlier this calendar year, United won three on the bounce to sweep the doubts over the former Rotherham manager’s job under the carpet.
But since the humiliation to Huddersfield, the international break has meant an unusually long time for people to react to that result, and it now seems like it may be a case of one more bad game proves to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and not for the first time in his tenure at Elland Road.
Can Evans prove to Cellino that he is still the right man for the job?
3) Leeds looking to improve their record in this fixture
Whilst there are many undercurrents involved in this match – Rotherham’s fight for survival, Evans’s future – there is also a huge rivalry between the two sides, and in recent times Rotherham have come out on top.
There was a six year gap between 2008 and 2014 where the two team didn’t meet, but since then, Rotherham have won two, drawn one and lost just the one to Leeds.
That defeat was in the FA Cup third round earlier this season, a 2-0 defeat at Elland Road. In the league, the Millers triumphed 1-0 over United, so both teams will have their motives in this one.
Whilst simply they will want the bragging rights in Yorkshire, Rotherham will want to avenge their FA Cup loss and Leeds will definitely want to make sure that Rotherham don’t do the league double over Leeds.
Who will come out on top in this interesting tussle?
Rotherham and Leeds fans… what do you think? Can Warnock continue to lead you to safety, starting with three points in this match? Will a victory over your rivals be enough for Evans to keep his job? Does he deserve to? Make your opinion heard below!