|Leeds United 2 v 1 Bolton Wanderers|
Tuesday, 14th August 2018 Kick-off 19:45
Match Preview: Leeds United v Bolton Wanderers - three from three for Bielsa's Whites?
Tuesday, 14th Aug 2018 16:38 by @LucasMonk_
Leeds United are pursuing a third win in succession under new head coach Marcelo Bielsa as they play host to Bolton Wanderers in the Carabao Cup (7:45pm).
Leeds United will be hopeful of prolonging their perfect start to the season with victory over relegation favourites Bolton Wanderers at Elland Road this evening.
After comprehensive defeats of Stoke City and Derby County in their opening league fixtures, United have been earmarked as potential contenders for the Championship title amidst burgeoning and palpable excitement amongst supporters as to what will betide throughout the remainder of the season.
And that bubbling anticipation amongst the club’s fanbase has already been borne out in the fact that Leeds have sold in excess of 5,000 tickets in the last 24 hours, prompting the club to open the East Stand Upper in anticipation of further sales - something that is seldom actioned for a low-key cup tie such as tonight’s.
United’s appointment of Marcelo Bielsa in June is clearly beginning to pay dividends already. That the Argentine was passionately disposed to the adoption of a richly fluid and dynamic style of attacking football was common knowledge prior to his arrival, even if his predilection for mate tea was not, and it is the manner, above all, in which his team rendered Stoke and Derby asunder with a newfound sneering nonchalance that has been most impressive. To see why the club’s supporters have railed around his leadership is thus hardly an obstinate challenge.
But in assessing the state of affairs at Elland Road one always has to examine things other than results. For example, the more observant of us can already discern the crucial role of Carlos Corberan, the club’s under-23’s manager, and how the Spaniard will aid in the blooding of precocious academy talent into the first-team squad. Jamie Shackleton was afforded a debut as a substitute at the weekend and signed a new three-year contract with Leeds only yesterday, and he will not be the last fledgling to make the step up during Bielsa’s tenure.
There is also the utter transformation, for that is what has been, of Mateusz Klich, who has risen from hidden silence like Nosferatu before terrorising the rearguards of the Potters and the Rams. The loaning of the Polish midfielder to Utrecht in his native Netherlands last season appeared terminal, but he has quickly emerged as one of the club’s standout performers under Bielsa, who had previously aided Dimitri Payet in improving immeasurably during his time with Marseille.
This cornucopia of footballing delights that Bielsa has concocted, of course, has already been tucked into by the fans, understandably esurient for elusive success. Expectations have been heightened, comparisons with Wolves drawn and almost unjustly self-assured forecasts made - but the season remains in its infancy, and nobody has been more at pains to emphasise this as Bielsa himself.
In his press conference yesterday afternoon, Bielsa launched a terse rejoinder at a line of questioning from the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Phil Hay, asking the journalist if he remembered where United were in the league at this time last season. He might have a penchant for the heterodox, and yet the Argentine understands the oft-feted salience of managing expectation.
Make no bones about it, Wanderers are unlikely to roll over and put themselves at the mercy of Bielsaball, but if a much-changed Leeds side can produce another stellar exhibition of skill, vigour and assiduity to put their opponents to the sword tonight, he may well have to double his efforts in guarding against the sort of flagrant hubris that came back to haunt the fans in the previous campaign.
Indiscriminate changes are expected to both the United side that saw off Derby and the Bolton outfit that relinquished a 2-0 lead to draw with Bristol City at the weekend.
Marcelo Bielsa is set to afford starts to a raft of new signings, including forward Patrick Bamford, who made his debut as a late substitute in Saturday’s win at Pride Park. Goalkeeper Jamal Blackman, midfielder Lewis Baker and winger Jack Harrison are all due to start alongside the erstwhile Middlesbrough forward.
Defenders Tom Pearce and Pontus Jansson will also play from the outset, as will midfielder Jamie Shackleton and forward Tyler Roberts.
Trotters boss Phil Parkinson will also hand debuts to several new signings. Left-back Jonathan Grounds and goalkeeper Remi Matthews both joined Wanderers on loan from Birmingham and Norwich City respectively, along with ex-Walsall forward Erhun Oztumer and defenders Jack Hobbs and Marc Wilson.
One to Watch: Patrick Bamford
Signed for a reputed £7m from divisional rivals Middlesbrough, Bamford, the Championship's player of the year in 2014-15, will be anxious to get off the mark for his new club in his first start in a white shirt.
Andy Haines, who incurred the ire of Darren Ferguson, then the manager of Doncaster, after waving away late appeals for a penalty in a draw with Plymouth in January.
Prediction: Leeds United 2-0 Bolton Wanderers
Photo: Action Images
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