Leeds United will hope to continue their promising start to the Premier League campaign when they lock horns with Sheffield United in the Yorkshire derby.
Following 16 years of absence, Leeds United have awed the onlookers upon their return to the Premier League.
Influenced by the enigmatic Marcelo Bielsa, the Whites had initially started their campaign with a narrow 4-3 defeat to Liverpool. It was followed by a convincing yet nervy 4-3 win over last season’s Championship rivals and fellow promoted club, Fulham.
Although Leeds United did get knocked out by Hull City in the Carabao Cup, it goes without saying that the Yorkshire outfit are here to stay in the Premier League. So, a win against their local rivals, Sheffield United, on Sunday could be key as they look to get the early head start in what will be a long 2020/21 campaign.
The Blades, however, are no slouch, having finished in the top half of the Premier League last season. That said, Chris Wilder’s men have looked nervy so far this campaign as they are yet to secure a single victory so far.
Sheffield United started their campaign with a 2-0 loss to Wolves, followed by a Carabao Cup exit at the hands of Burnley and another defeat to Aston Villa in the Premier League last weekend. A win on Sunday, therefore, could be imperative as Sheffield United look to bounce back from their early-season blues.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at both these sides ahead of this fascinating Premier League encounter this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
"I don't know what the betting companies have got but we need to be at it from the start."
The Skipper's Press Conference ahead of Sunday's game against Leeds. 👊
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) September 25, 2020
Chris Wilder will not have to deal with too many injury-related absentees heading into this clash, with Lys Mousset being the only player sidelined for Sheffield United at the moment. However, key defender John Egan is out after getting an early red card against Aston Villa last weekend.
Youngster Ethan Ampadu is a favourite to replace Egan at centre-back, although the experienced Phil Jagielka is also an option. The Chelsea starlet should form the three-man backline alongside Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell.
Wilder is unlikely to make any more changes elsewhere, with George Baldock and Enda Stevens likely to occupy the wing-back slots. Even in midfield, Sander Berge may once again get the nod ahead of Oliver Norwood.
The Norwegian should form the three-man Sheffield United midfield unit alongside John Fleck and John Lundstram. It will be interesting to see how these three cope with the fascinatingly aggressive Leeds United press.
Moving forward, Wilder has a lot of options in attack. However, given the tentative nature shown by Leeds’s new signing Robin Koch, we could expect David McGoldrick to feature in this match, alongside Oliver McBurnie, with the duo hoping to unsettle the opposition backline with their typically robust nature.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Ramsdale; Basham, Ampadu, O’Connell; Baldock, Fleck, Berge, Lundstram, Stevens; McGoldrick, McBurnie
Leeds United this week have managed to secure the services of Diego Llorente from Real Sociedad. The Spaniard has been declared fit for selection, but is likely to start on the bench, paving the way for Robin Koch and Liam Cooper to once again form the central defensive partnership.
Bielsa is likely to persist with a four-man backline despite Sheffield United’s 3-5-2 so we can expect both Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas to continue as full-backs, with Illan Meslier also getting the nod ahead of Kiko Casilla.
💬 “We are really happy” Read more from Victor on bringing defender Diego Llorente to Elland Road
— Leeds United (@LUFC) September 24, 2020
In midfield, the Whites have been dealt with a huge blow as Pablo Hernandez is out for two weeks after picking up a knock in training last weekend. Rodrigo had to start instead of the ageing playmaker last time out, but the Spaniard may have to settle for a place on the bench for this one, with Tyler Roberts likely to occupy the number ten role.
Roberts will be supported by the in-form Mateusz Klich while Kalvin Phillips is a guaranteed starter in the number six role, providing the transition for Leeds United. Finally, in attack, Bielsa has absolutely no reason to replace Patrick Bamford at the moment while the Argentine also doesn’t have any option to rotate the in-form wide-attacking duo of Jack Harrison and Helder Costa.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Klich, Roberts, Harrison; Bamford
1. Leeds Draw No Bet @ 1.83
1. Leeds to Win to NIL @ 4.50
- Sheffield United have won four of their last five league games against Leeds United; this will be the first top-flight meeting between the sides since a 2-2 draw in March 1994.
- Leeds won on their last league visit to Bramall Lane against Sheffield United, 1-0 in December 2018. They’ve not won back to back away games against the Blades since April 1992.
- 31 goals have been scored over the last eight top-flight meetings between Sheffield United and Leeds United with the Whites winning six of those matches.
- This will be the first Yorkshire derby in the Premier League since May 2001, when Leeds United beat Bradford City 6-1, in their penultimate game of the 2000-01 campaign.
- Leeds United’s first two Premier League games this season have seen 14 goals scored, more than any other team’s first two matches of a Premier League campaign. They are the first top-flight side to both score and concede seven goals in their first two matches since Liverpool in the 1932-33 season.
Player to Watch
19/20: 16 goals from 24.82(xG)
20/21: 2 goals from 0.17(xG)
Patrick Bamford cashing in his xG 💰 pic.twitter.com/pg62toNlia
— The xG Philosophy (@xGPhilosophy) September 20, 2020
Ever since Leeds United’s promotion to the Premier League, their star striker Patrick Bamford always had a point to prove, following criticism over his credibility at the highest level of football.
So far, it seems Bamford has done well to silence his critics, having been involved in four goals in the first two league matches. He has been quite influential behind Leeds United’s bright and exciting start to the campaign, with the striker often providing the much-needed dynamism and flexibility in the final third.
On Sunday, Bamford will have the opportunity to continue his bright form as he looks to become Leeds’s first-choice number nine, ahead of record signing Rodrigo.
Sheffield United 0-1 Leeds United
Unfortunately, we might not witness a goal-fest as we have in Leeds United’s past two matches given the rather defensive nature of their opponents. However, it should be a good idea to bet against the Blades as they lack the form as well as the quality to get the better of a motivated team like Leeds this weekend. We expect the visitors to seal a narrow victory.