One-time Leeds star Andy Ritchie, says that Garry Monk will know ‘a bit more’ about his players after the visit of Newcastle.
One of the biggest threats facing Leeds United is Newcastle’s ‘potent attacking forces’ according to Ritchie, with Championship top scorer Dwight Gayle giving the home side a ‘big task’…if selected.
However, Andy Ritchie thinks another Newcastle player is the really ‘influential player’ in the Newcastle team.
The former Leeds striker identifying Jonjo Shelvey as somebody who will hurt Leeds if they allow him to play. The Newcastle midfielder cleared to play after challenging the misconduct charge, with a hearing date yet to be announced.
To stand a chance of winning, Ritchie believes the Leeds players have to ‘get at’ Shelvey and by doing so expose his ‘uppity’ side.
Jonjo Shelvey has got a temperamental side and like most ball players doesn’t like players getting stuck into him. Not the best of tacklers, when he reacts he is liable to pick up a booking.
In his last 67 starts (plus 11 as a sub) over the past two and a half seasons, he has picked up 21 yellow cards in league matches and been suspended five times. Currently Shelvey is on four bookings, one short of a ban.
The Newcastle midfielder is undoubtedly the one player Rafa Benitez hasn’t got a replacement for and hopefully the first Elland Road sellout in over six years will bring out the best in him for what looks a tough game.
Andy Ritchie talking to the Yorkshire Evening Post:
“Newcastle are at the top of their game at the minute but so are Leeds.
“Newcastle know all about big crowds – especially at their own ground where they enjoy a partisan following. Their fans also travel in their thousands but I think they will certainly know about it when they get to Elland Road. For a sell-out game like this, the Leeds fans will make some noise and will be really up for it, as they are always are.
“Leeds will know tomorrow that they have got one of the most potent attacking forces against them – in fact, the most potent force in the league in front of goal.
“They have got the lad Dwight Gayle who is firing and Leeds have got a big task on as they will know. I think Garry will probably know a bit more about his own side after the visit of Newcastle.
“Jonjo Shelvey is available to play for Newcastle and he is an influential player. He has played for England and is a player who, if you give him time and space, will hurt you. He’s a very good player at hurting you but, also, he can be a little bit uppity.
“You can get at him, you can niggle him a little bit and I’m not by any stretch of the imagination saying that those might be tactics used by Leeds at the weekend!
“But he is a class player and he has been at one of the top clubs in the world in Liverpool.
“He knows what it’s about and if they let him play he can be very influential and that’s one of the areas I would have thought where Garry will be saying: ‘we have to really compete there, we have to upset them and we have to make sure they don’t get into any rhythm and then, hopefully, we can go on and play our game as well.’
“Leeds shouldn’t have any fears about the game with the way they are playing, definitely not. (Young) Lads like Vieira and Phillips have got to come of age and they wouldn’t be in the first-team squad if they didn’t think they had a chance. If they are in there then they’ve got to do a job, they have got to come of age and they have got to in there and keep their heads.
“They know it will be a hot atmosphere and let’s face it, most of the players that will be in that Leeds team won’t have played in front of a crowd like that before. It’s going to a tester for everybody but I certainly think they will rise to the occasion.”