Newly-crowned EFL Championship winners Leeds United will be looking to celebrate their promotion to the Premier League with a win against Derby County.

After 16 years of arduous wait, Leeds United will be returning to the Premier League. The Whites’ promotion to the English top-flight was confirmed on Friday when second-placed West Bromwich Albion dropped points in their penultimate game of the season.

There was more good news to follow for Marcelo Bielsa’s brigade as third-placed Brenford’s defeat to Stoke City on Saturday meant Leeds United have now officially won the EFL Championship, with an unassailable five-point lead at the top. And they will now be looking to celebrate their success with a victory when they travel to Pride Park Stadium to take on Derby County on Sunday.

It has been a special season for Leeds under the tutelage of the enigmatic Bielsa. Having come so close last time out, it appeared like it would once again be the case of so near yet so far after a mid-season blip. However, they have come out firing on all cylinders since the restart of the season, winning five of their seven games during the period, most recently beating Barnsley 1-0 (D1 L1).

Derby County, on the other hand, lost any hopes of finishing in the playoff positions, following their 2-1 defeat to Cardiff City earlier this week. The Rams are currently seated in the 11th position in the table, six points below sixth place. With little to play for Phillip Cocu’s men will be aiming to spoil Leeds title and promotion celebrations with a victory on Sunday afternoon.

The reverse fixture, played at Elland Road, ended in a 1-1 draw with Chris Martin equalising for Derby in stoppage time after a Max Lowe own-goal had put Leeds in front. And ahead of their latest meeting this weekend, The Hard Tackle will take a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Derby County

Phillip Cocu will be looking to lead Derby County to a win on Sunday

Phillip Cocu will be looking to lead Derby County to a win on Sunday. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Hosts Derby County have been handed a double boost ahead of the visit of the champions on Sunday. Manager Phillip Cocu will have forward Martyn Waghorn back in contention after he served his three-match suspension. Duane Holmes has also recovered from the injury that caused him to miss the last two games. Andre Wisdom, though, remains sidelined.

Cocu is expected to set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against Leeds, with Kelle Roos starting in goal ahead of Ben Hamer, who has been quite erratic during his time at Pride Park.

Jayden Bogle should return to the lineup at right-back after being left out against Cardiff, with Max Lowe moving to the opposite flank. Matthew Clarke and Curtis Davies should continue to pair up at the heart of the Rams’ defence.

Captain Wayne Rooney ought to be retained in the two-man midfield pivot, where he will be partnering teenager Max Bird, who has been linked with a summer switch to Premier League giants Chelsea. The creative responsibilities will fall on the shoulders of another teenager, Louie Sibley, who ought to start as the No. 10.

Jason Knight, who scored Derby’s only goal against Cardiff last time out, should slot in on the right flank, while Tom Lawrence, who has been directly involved in 14 goals this term, should get the nod on the left. With Waghorn back, he could replace Chris Martin as the lone striker for the hosts.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Roos; Bogle, Clarke, Davies, Lowe; Rooney, Bird; Knight, Sibley, Lawrence; Waghorn

Leeds United

Leeds United will be without the services of key midfield man Kalvin Phillips, who is out with a knee injury. In addition, winger Helder Costa is also a major doubt after being stretchered off in the previous game against Barnsley. Adam Forshaw is another player who is unavailable for selection for Marcelo Bielsa.

Goalkeeper Kiko Casilla is available again after serving out his eight-match ban. However, he is unlikely to start, with youngster Illan Meslier impressing in goal during his absence. Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas ought to continue as the two full-backs while captain Liam Cooper should start with Gaetano Berardi at the heart of the defence.

With Phillips ruled out, defender Ben White is likely to slot in as the defensive midfielder once again on Sunday. The attacking responsibilities from the centre will fall on the shoulders of Mateusz Klich and Tyler Roberts, who will play the first 45 minutes before making way for Pablo Hernandez for the second half as has been the case in almost each game since the restart.

With Costa a doubt for the game, Ezgjan Alioski should get the nod on the right flank, while Jack Harrison is an undisputed starter on the left. Spearheading the attack for the newly-crowned champions should be leading goalscorer Patrick Bamford.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Cooper, Berardi, Dallas; White; Alioski, Roberts, Klich, Harrison; Bamford

Key Stats

  • Leeds United have kept a clean sheet in their last three matches in the EFL Championship.
  • Derby County have collected just one point from their last four games in the Championship. The Rams have lost the previous three in a row.
  • Leeds United have won 57 of the 124 meetings between the two clubs, whereas Derby County have come out on top on 38 occasions. 29 matches have ended in draws.
  • Derby County have conceded two or more goals in each of their last three matches in the English second division.
  • Leeds United are without a win in their last two meetings against Derby County (D1 L1). Prior to that, the Whites had won three in a row against the Rams.

Player to Watch

Wayne Rooney

Having arrived at Pride Park in January after his MLS stint came to an end, the 34-year-old Wayne Rooney has made quite the impact for Derby County. The former Manchester United superstar has netted six goals and created three more for his teammates in 22 matches in all competitions, despite playing in midfield.

However, it was his mistake against Cardiff in the last game, when he gave the ball away to Lee Tomlin, leading to the Bluebirds’ winner, that effectively killed off Derby County’s lingering playoff hopes. While he will not be able to rectify that, the former England international will be aiming to make amends with a strong performance and spoil the champions’ title party.

Prediction

Derby County 0-1 Leeds United

Derby County are without a victory in their last four matches in the Championship and have lost their previous three in a row. Leeds United, on the other hand, are on a six-game unbeaten run, winning their last four in a row. Given their form, Marcelo Bielsa & co. go into the game as favourites and should pick up another win to celebrate their title victory and promotion.

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