League One Peterborough United host Championship Leeds United for FA Cup 3rd round action, as both sides look to continue their strong form which has left both hovering just outside of their respective automatic promotion spots.
The match is set to kick off at 2pm on Sunday 7th January at the Weston Homes Stadium. The two sides last met in the competition on January 4th 1986, with Posh winning the game 1-0 at their then-named London Road Stadium.
Both sides will not want the cup to distract from their all-important league campaigns but will see the competition as the perfect opportunity to build confidence and test their squad depth following a busy Christmas period. Whilst Leeds have only just entered the draw for the competition, Peterborough were able to push aside League Two side Doncaster Rovers in the 2nd round and Saltford City in the 1st though they would require a replay and penalties to defeat the Greater Manchester-based club.
Darren Ferguson’s side come into this game unbeaten in ten matches in all competitions, (7W 3D) a run spanning back as far as November 21st. In the League, the Cambridgeshire-based club have picked up 11 points from the previous 15 available, picking up an impressive 3-2 victory away to 4th place Derby County and an emphatic 3-0 home win over 5th place Oxford United in the process.
Daniel Farke’s side, on the contrary, enter the competition on their poorest run of form since the summer window slammed shut with 50% of their league losses coming in their last six matches, at the hands of West Bromwich Albion, Preston North End and Sunderland. Their form in the last five matches (2W 1D 2L) means they have picked up eight points from the available 15, form that would see them finish some way out of the automatic promotion picture.
The Posh are set to play without first-choice shot-stopper Bilokapic who limped off during Peterborough’s 2-2 draw with Barnsley. There are also fitness concerns over forward Malik Mothersille and defender Romoney Crichlow who both were absent last time out versus Derby. Lastly, Darren Ferguson will have to play without former club-captain Peter Kioso who was recalled by his parent club Rotherham United.
Meanwhile, the Peacocks look to get back to winning ways with several injury concerns among their squad. Sam Byram was subbed off last time out against Birmingham, with Pascal Struijk missing out on the last two matches with an abductor injury, both are expected to be out for this clash. Speaking to the press after the Birmingham game about the Dutch centre-back, Daniel Farke suggested:
“It will be a close call for the FA Cup game. We won’t take any risks with him, to be honest, but I expect to have him back and I hope to have him back at least for the next league game.”
The Whites are also due to have issues in the net for this one as Illan Meslier serves his final match of a three-match ban and backup keeper Karl Darlow suffers from a dislocated thumb, expected to be out for 7 weeks. Young attacker Joe Gelhardt is also due to miss out with a glute strain sustained in training.
The Yorkshire side have won all but one of the last five meetings between the two sides home and away, with their last match ending in a 1-1 draw after 90 minutes at Elland Road in 2013. Peterborough’s last win in the clash came in 2008 with a 2-0 home win.
The Posh have only been able to progress in the cup against higher league opposition on two of the last 14 occasions, both coming against Championship sides (2-0 vs Preston in 2015-16 and 1-3 vs Aston Villa in 2017/18.) Their best FA Cup performance came in 1965 with a quarter-final loss to Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Leeds won the competition on one occasion in 1972 and lost narrowly in the final to Liverpool in 1965, the year of Peterborough’s best campaign. This year’s third round clash was also a record-breaking one for Leeds, with the side receiving their 13th consecutive away draw in the competition.
With both sides impressing in the League this will be an interesting FA Cup matchup, especially if Farke decides to rotate their mostly unchanged side that has performed in the League. Even if the Championship side do rotate heavily TheRealEFL predicts a 3-1 win to the West Yorkshire outfit as they look to advance to the fourth round.