Leeds United will be looking to take another step closer towards promotion to the Premier League when they face off against Swansea City this weekend.
With just four matches left to be played in the EFL Championship, Leeds United are on the verge of finally ending their 16-year hiatus from the Premier League. Sitting atop the table, the Whites will be looking to edge closer to promotion to the top-flight, when they travel to the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City on Sunday.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side are level on points with second-placed West Bromwich Albion, albeit with a game in hand, with the Baggies dropping points on Saturday. Leeds have had ups and downs over the course of the campaign, but seem to be hurtling at full speed now, having not lost in their last four matches, thrashing Stoke City 5-0 last time out.
Swansea are embroiled in the battle for a playoff spot. Following their 3-1 win over Birmingham, the Welsh outfit are seventh on the table, a point shy of Cardiff City in sixth, with a game in hand. A win against the leaders would be vital for Steve Cooper’s side, more so with Preston North End, Derby County and Blackburn Rovers breathing down their necks.
The reverse fixture, played at Elland Road back in August last year, saw the Swans bag a 1-0 win courtesy a late Wayne Routledge strike. And ahead of their latest meeting this Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Swansea City will welcome Jordon Garrick back into the fold after he missed the last game due to suspension. However, Joe Rodon and Ben Wilmot remain sidelined with injuries. There are no other fitness concerns for Steve Cooper heading into sunday’s game.
Ahead of their game against Birmingham tonight, head coach Steve Cooper admits Swansea City must find some consistency if they are to reach the Championship play-offs
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) July 8, 2020
The hosts are expected to line up in a 3-4-1-2 formation with on-loan goalkeeper Freddie Woodman starting in goal. Mike van der Hoorn, who made it to the bench in the last match, should start in the three-man backline, alongside Marc Guehi and Ben Cabango, who scored in the win against Birmingham.
There is no looking past Connor Roberts and Jake Bidwell in the wing-back slots on the right and left sides respectively. Jay Fulton, who was also on the scoresheet in the last game, ought to continue in the middle of the park. He will have captain Matt Grimes as his partner on the day.
On-loan Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher, who has emerged as a target for Burnley, is a certain starter in the No. 10 role, from where he will look to dictate the proceedings and create chances for the striker-duo of Rhian Brewster and Andre Ayew.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Woodman; van der Hoorn, Cabango, Guehi; Roberts, Fulton, Grimes, Bidwell; Gallagher; Brewster, Ayew
Leeds United also do not have many pressing injury concerns heading into the game. Adam Forshaw’s season ended prematurely in February, after he underwent a hip surgery. Goalkeeper Kiko Casilla will be serving the last of his eight-match ban on Sunday.
The Whites are expected to line up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Illan Meslier set to continue in goal for the suspended Casilla. Luke Ayling is a guaranteed starter at right-back, while Stuart Dallas should continue on the left, although Barry Douglas is a viable option having impressed against Blackburn.
Captain Liam Cooper ought to pair up alongside Ben White, who has enjoyed a brilliant season so far, at the heart of the Leeds defence. Kalvin Phillips, who has been linked with Manchester United in the past, will provide cover to the defence, starting in the holding midfield role.
Pablo Hernandez vs. Stoke City:
76% pass accuracy
45 minutes played
31/41 successful passes
10/14 final third passes
3 chances created 🔥
3 tackles won 💪
1 shot on-target
1 goal ⚽
1 assist 🎯
An absolute privilege to see him play for Leeds. 🙌🙌 pic.twitter.com/GrosxRc9iV
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) July 9, 2020
Mateusz Klich will provide the forward thrust from the centre. 35-year-old Pablo Hernandez, who hasn’t started a single game since the league restarted, should get the nod in the second attacking midfield role, after his goal-scoring cameo against Stoke.
Helder Costa, whose loan deal was made permanent earlier this month, should feature on the right, while Jack Harrison should continue on the left. Leading goalscorer Patrick Bamford, who has scored 16 goals so far this season, is the obvious choice to spearhead the Leeds United attack.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Hernandez, Klich, Harrison; Bamford
- Leeds United have won eight of their last ten matches in the EFL Championship.
- This will be the 40th meeting in all competitions between Leeds and Swansea. The Whites have the upper-hand when it comes up head-to-head record, having come out on top on 20 occasions, while the Swans have emerged triumphant 12 times (D7).
- Both Leeds and Swansea City have picked up two wins each in their previous five meetings across all competitions (D1).
- Leeds United haven’t registered a win on their previous five visits to the Liberty Stadium (D2 L3). Their last away win against the Swans came way back in 1964.
- Swansea have lost just two of their previous eleven Championship matches on their home turf (W5 D4).
Player to Watch
8 goals in 16 games for Rhian Brewster since joining Swansea on loan in January 🙌 pic.twitter.com/iGcTDy0ZQY
— Liverpool.com (@Liverpoolcom_) July 8, 2020
The England U-21 striker joined Swansea on loan from Premier League champions Liverpool in January and has thrived. Playing under the tutelage of former coach and mentor Steve Cooper, Brewster has made quite the impact during his time at the Welsh club, helping their push for a playoff berth.
So far in his spell at the Liberty Stadium Brewster has netted eight goals in 16 appearances, including a goal in the win against Birmingham City last time out. With support from Andre Ayew and Conor Gallagher, the Englishman can make life difficult for the Leeds defenders this weekend.
Swansea City – Leeds United
Leeds United need seven points from their remaining four matches to confirm automatic promotion to the Premier League. And given their recent performances against Blackburn and Stoke, it is going to be hard for any opposition to stop them.
However, Swansea, too, are in a good moment at the time. The Welsh outfit showed their character to come back from a goal down to thrash Birmingham City last time out. With the playoff spot at stake, they will not hold back on Sunday.
While Leeds haven’t had the best of times in their recent visits to the Liberty Stadium, they should be able to come out on top on Sunday, with Pablo Hernandez likely to make an impact against his former team. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for the Whites, taking them an inch closer to the finish line.