|Leeds United 1 v 1 Brentford|
Saturday, 6th October 2018 Kick-off 12:30
Match Preview: Leeds United v Brentford - Will Bielsa's Whites sting the Bees?
Saturday, 6th Oct 2018 04:33 by @LucasMonk_
Leeds United are seeking to cement their position at the Championship’s summit with a win over Brentford at Elland Road this afternoon (12:30pm).
The ability to win in the event of underperforming is an oft-feted quality in football, and Leeds United exuded it brilliantly in their markedly efficient defeat of Hull City in midweek. So many of United’s performances this season have seen them carve opponents apart with ease and score goals profusely, but the 1-0 victory at the KCOM Stadium showed to the country a different side to the free-flowing, free-scoring outfit that comfortably saw off Stoke City, Derby County and Norwich City earlier in the campaign.
Notwithstanding injuries to salient first-team stars, Marcelo Bielsa’s charges still performed competently, created several chances and limited their hosts to few forays forward, and appear to be at pains to banish the painful memory of last season’s convulsive rise and fall.
And with the likes of Kemar Roofe and Pablo Hernandez due to return during the forthcoming international break, a win this afternoon at home to Brentford, currently the occupants of the last play-off position, would stand the table-toppers in fine stead for the trip to Blackburn Rovers in a fortnight’s time.
But, as is always the case in the austerely competitive Championship, it will not be an easy task. Although they are yet to win away from home in the league this season, Brentford pose many threats and have garnered many admirers owing to their progressive and expansive brand of football. Thus they are not to be taken lightly.
Fortunately, no man could be more regardful of that fact than the oracular Bielsa, and if defeat were to befall Leeds today it would not be the result of indolence or complacency. A compelling clash between two teams given to fluid, dynamic and offensive football is most certainly in prospect.
Only one question need be answered: which team, if any, will come out on top?
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Leeds are notably without Barry Douglas, after the left-back sustained a hamstring injury away to Hull in midweek. Kemar Roofe, Patrick Bamford, Pablo Hernandez and Gaetano Berardi are all also sidelined.
Brentford could recall Said Benrahma after the forward received two yellow cards at Reading last weekend. Fellow forward Ollie Watkins could also return, but Emiliano Marcondes and Rico Henry are unavailable owing to injury.
Recent League Form:
One to Watch: Samuel Saiz, Leeds
The mercurial playmaker has failed to make an impactful contribution in any of his last three appearances, but is capable of producing a crucial piece of point-winning panache when on song. It is vital to United’s promotion prospects that the Spaniard begins to produce consistent performances.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Jeremy Simpson last officiated a Leeds match in April - a 1-1 home draw with Sunderland - and has presided over eight Championship fixtures this season, showing 24 yellow cards and two reds.
Writer’s Prediction: Leeds United 2-1 Brentford
This duel with sixth-placed Brentford will doubtless be a stern test of United’s abilities, but perhaps the nature of said duel will suit Marcelo Bielsa’s swashbuckling charges.
Birmingham were able to worst them with a deep defensive block and a double-salvo on the counter, with the hosts struggling to come to terms with the fact that their opponents severely limited spaces in behind.
Conversely, Brentford will likely be a great deal more venturesome in their approach, and will be more inclined to press them higher up the pitch than did Garry Monk’s side.
And Leeds have already demonstrated, with ruthless efficiency, their ability to play through such high presses and create cavernous spaces in opposing defences.
There are still several threats to consider; they will have to be mindful of Bees hitman Neil Maupay, the scorer of no fewer than nine goals this season, as well as the alacritous Ollie Watkins and the creative Lewis MacLeod.
But if the hosts can establish a rhythm early on and impose their all-action style on the visitors, they will stand a good chance of victory. In particular, the onus will be on Mateusz Klich, Samuel Saiz and Jack Harrison to provide the in-form Tyler Roberts with adequate service from midfield.
Photo: Action Images
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