EFL Championship winners Leeds United will be looking to end the campaign on a high when they play Charlton Athletic in their final game this midweek.
After having won the EFL Championship and sealed promotion to the Premier League, Leeds United will be aiming to finish the 2019/20 season on a strong note when they play hosts to relegation battlers Charlton Athletic at Elland Road on Wednesday night.
Leeds were crowned champions last midweek, after West Bromwich Albion and Brentford dropped points in their respective penultimate matches of the season. The Whites celebrated the title triumph with a 3-1 hammering of Derby County at the Pride Park. But Marcelo Bielsea will want his side to not lose focus, as they look to make it six wins in a row on Wednesday.
Charlton Athletic, on the other hand, are currently 21st in the table, level on points with 22nd placed Luton Town. The Addicks are without a win in their last six league outings (D3 L3), with their most recent game ending in a 2-2 draw with Wigan Athletic. A victory would ensure safety in the division for Lee Bowyer’s men or even a draw would suffice, depending on how the results go elsewhere.
The reverse fixture, played in September last year, had ended in a 1-0 win for Charlton, courtesy a goal from Macauley Bonne. And ahead of their latest meeting on the final matchday of the season, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Bielsa will have to make do without the services of key midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who is out with an injury, while Gaetano Berardi is also likely to miss out. Adam Forshaw will also be unavailable for selection. Having rotated his troops for the last game, the manager his likely to field his strongest XI on Wednesday.
Kiko Casilla was brought back into the starting XI last time out after he served out his suspension. The Spaniard could drop out on Wednesday though, given that he was suspended for racially abusing Jonathan Leko, who was on loan at Charlton when the incident took place.
Ben White and captain Liam Cooper should slot in as the two centre-backs, with Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas lining up as the full-backs on the right and left sides respectively. Pascal Struijk has done well in the defensive midfield role and should feature once again in the absence of Kalvin Phillips.
Helder Costa was left out of the squad for the last game due to an injury issue and may not start against Charlton. Instead, we could see veteran star Pablo Hernandez moving out to the right flank, to accommodate Tyler Roberts and Mateusz Klich in the two attacking midfield slots, while Jack Harrison is a certainty on the left flank.
Patrick Bamford, who was benched in the last match, should reclaim his spot at the tip of the Leeds United attack in the final game of the season.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Struijk; Hernandez, Roberts, Klich, Harrison; Bamford
Lewis Page is the only player out injured for Charlton ahead of their visit to Elland Road. The Addicks will also be without Lyle Taylor, who has refused to play since the restart as he doesn’t want to risk an injury with his contract expiring at the end of the season.
💬 "It's in our hands. The teams below us have to win, they are the ones chasing us…"
The boss insists that the pressure is on the chasing pack tomorrow night…
— Charlton Athletic FC (@CAFCofficial) July 21, 2020
Lee Bowyer is expected to set his team up in a 3-5-2 formation against his former club, with Dillon Phillips, who was named the club’s Player of the Year lining up in goal. The three-man backline in front of him should comprise of Tom Lockyer, Jason Pearce and Naby Sarr, who will be out of contract soon.
Adam Matthews and Alfie Doughty, who scored in the last game against Wigan Athletic, ought to be the wing-backs on the right and left sides respectively for the Addicks. Sam Field will provide the defensive screen starting as the deepest of the three midfielders. He will have support from Josh Cullen, while Albie Morgan should provide the forward thrust.
Upfront, leading goalscore Macauley Bonne is a certain starter and should have Chuks Aneke as his partner, although Josh Davison is an option at the manager’s disposal.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Phillips; Lockyer, Pearce, Sarr; Matthews, Morgan, Field, Cullen, Doughty; Bonne, Aneke
- Leeds United have the upper hand over Charlton Athletic when it comes to head-to-head record. The Whites have won 25 of the 56 fixtures between the two sides, while the Addicks have won 20 (D11).
- Leeds, however, haven’t been able to beat Charlton in the last six meetings between the two sides (D2 L4). Their last win against the Addicks came way back in November 2013.
- Charlton have failed to win 17 of their last 19 away matches in the English second division. However, they are undefeated in their last 8 away matches against Leeds in all competitions.
- Leeds United have kept a clean sheet in 6 of their last 7 home matches in the EFL Championship.
- Having won their first two matches post restart, the Addicks have failed to pick up three points in their subsequent six fixtures.
Player to Watch
Is Pablo Hernandez the best player in the EFL? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/98SId3ThjB
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) July 19, 2020
The 35-year-old has been a hugely influential player for Leeds over the course of the campaign. While fitness issues have prohibited him from starting regularly since the restart, Hernandez has changed the course of the game on every occasion he has come on from the bench.
The Spaniard has racked up a return of 9 goals and 7 assists in 35 Championship appearances. The seasoned campaigner has scored three times and set up one more in the last four matches. He will be aiming to make a similar impact on Wednesday night end the campaign on a high.
Leeds United 1-0 Charlton Athletic
Leeds came back from behind to register a win in the previous game, in spite of having left a number of regulars out of the starting XI. Charlton, on the other hand, haven’t been able to pick up wins for six games in a row now.
That being said, the Addicks will be extra-motivated as they fight for their survival and will make things difficult for the champions. However, given the current run of form and the likelihood of Bielsa naming his strongest available lineup, Leeds United should be able to finish what has been an incredible campaign, on a winning note.