It’s that time of the year again, folks. Leeds United at home. As bad as our record is post-international break, our record against Leeds isn’t much better.
Since the infamous ‘job done’ night back in May 2006, we have faced Leeds 12 times in the league, once in the play-offs and once in the League Cup. Obviously, the majority of you will recall the League Cup win with Brandon Barker scoring a wonderful solo goal.
We all know how the play-offs ended that fateful night at Deepdale under the lights in what proved to be Billy Davies’ last game in charge but the 12 league games, we have lost 7 of 12, drawing 2 and winning 3. That’s 11 points taken from a possible 36 in the league against Leeds in 13 years. Not exactly a brilliant record I think you will agree but, here’s hoping for an improvement this week.
As far as our recent form goes, it’s not really too bad. We have only lost 2 games in the last 10 and only 3 since the start of the season. Admittedly, that could quite easily read 5 come Sunday but football, as the cliche goes, isn’t played on paper and I hope to god that come Saturday tea-time, we’re looking back on a good week.
We’re still the only side unbeaten at home in the Championship, we’re the highest scorers in the league at home and we’re actually, despite drawing a blank on Saturday against Reading, still the highest scorers in the league full stop. So, despite the set back in Berkshire on Saturday, there’s plenty to be positive about heading into this week.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side, on the other hand, come into the game on the back of a 1-0 win over Birmingham City. They have been involved in 5 1-0 games so far this season and their 3 defeats have all been by a single goal, losing 1-0 to Swansea and Charlton and losing 2-1 to Millwall just before the international break.
They aren’t exactly prolific goalscorers either having only scored 16 goals this season but 11 of their 16 have come away from home whereas 18 of our 23 have come at home. So if you were partial to a flutter now and then, you may want to consider putting some money on there being goals on Tuesday night.
In a Leeds side managed by El Loco himself, there’s always going to be potential dangers. Helder Costa is one that I’ll include here because despite him only starting 4 games in the league and 2 in the cup this season, alongside 8 substitute appearances, he’s got the ability to trouble us.
The Portuguese is comfortably two-footed, direct, tricky and pacy and he’s bound to cause us problems whether that’s a cameo appearance off the bench or he’s given a starting role by Bielsa. With Pablo Hernandez out through injury, it’s possible we could see him start on Tuesday night though.
Another player to keep an eye on is Leeds’ very own local lad, Kalvin Phillips. He is currently second behind Kevin Stewart of Hull in terms of the most successful tackles per game in the Championship this season and he’s a bit of a talisman for Bielsa’s team in the way he plays. It’ll certainly be an interesting battle between him and Pearson in the middle of the park.
This week’s opposition view comes from Leeds United fan, Marco Hopcutt. Marco is currently in his third year at Leeds Trinity University studying sports journalism. He can also be found writing for Through it all Together, in fact, if you like, you can read his match preview ahead of the game here. You can follow him on twitter here – @MarcoHopcutt77. Without further ado, over to Marco.
United will be in very high spirits going into the game after such a memorable day at Elland Road on Saturday and will be looking to take that positive energy into Tuesday’s fixture at Deepdale.
Leeds go into this game sat in second place in the league table, just two points behind league leaders West Brom and will be keen on securing the three points to try and climb their way back to the summit of the Championship.
A strong start to the season was always expected of Marcelo Bielsa and his men this season after last season’s disappointing finale and a strong start has been made. However, you can’t help but feel the start to this season could have, and arguably should have been better than what it has been.
Leeds have, much like last season, dominated nearly every side they have faced so far this season but have not made as much use of the possession and domination as they would have liked. The goals seemed to have dried up a little bit prior to the international break with the Whites netting 3 goals in 4 games which is unlike the usual Leeds we have seen so far under ‘El Loco’.
The lack of goals is a concern, considering the number of chances this free-flowing Bielsa side make, the conversion rate should be much higher than it is so far. Leeds seem to have everything that it takes to get out of the division apart from a 20+ goal a season striker.
Bamford is a good player, no doubt, his work rate and sacrificial runs to create chances and goals has been excellent so far. However, 4 league goals in 12 games isn’t promotion, star striker form and it seemed obvious last season but even more so this season that, that type of player is exactly what Leeds are lacking. Eddie Nketiah could be the answer to this problem, but its not easy to tell due to his lack of game time, but when he has played, he’s scored and for England, he has been on fire.
The fear amongst Leeds fans is that if he isn’t given sufficient game time Arsenal will recall him, leaving the team short of a striker and possibly the answer to the lack of goals.
However, Leeds will be going into the game as confident as ever, being one of the strongest teams in the league and if they bring their A-game, it’s tough for any team in this league to take points from United. Here’s my predicted line-up: Casilla; Ayling, White, Berardi, Alioski; Phillips; Costa, Dallas, Klich, Harrison; Bamford.
As for my predictions for the game, we can’t really be much worse than we were on Saturday can we? I’m harbouring hopes of a night under the lights at Deepdale that’s going to live long in the memory but, unlike May 2006, for all the right reasons.
I’ll go with the following for our starting XI: Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Hughes; Pearson, Gallagher; Harrop, Johnson, Maguire; Barkhuizen. I think we will look to press Leeds all over the pitch and take the game to them. I’ll go for a tight 3-2 win for North End to take us into Saturday’s game against Rovers full of confidence.
If you want to remind yourself of the shambles that was the 1-0 defeat at Reading on Saturday, you can hit the play button on the player below to listen to Episode #18 of the pod.