STAR PREVIEW: Leeds United v Derby County

Are Leeds, who play Derby tonight in a huge Championship clash, about to suffer another case of Bielsa Burnout? The Argentine manager has brought a style of play seldom seen in in England’s second division to Elland Road, with his Leeds side top with more than half the season gone. However, the league leaders are not in form.

A 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup made it three straight defeats for them and some are fearful about another late collapse, the sort which has afflicted previous Bielsa teams like Newell’s Old Boys, Marseille and Athletic Bilbao. Given the length of the Championship season it’s a question that many will ponder upon but one thing that isn’t likely to change is goals.

Bielsa has found much success with the dynamite attacking duo of Kemar Roofe (13 Championship goals) and Pablo Hernández (seven goals and 10 assists) have been ably assisted by Mateusz Klich, who himself has six assists and five goals. However, the whole team is fully into the ethos of Bielsa’s pressing methods and the rewards have been clear for all to see – Leeds haven’t had this many points with 26 games played in the last eight seasons.

Their 2-0 defeat against Hull at home came with a deceptive scoreline as January transfer target Jarrod Bowne scored twice against the run of play and they dominated much of the opening half away to Nottingham Forest before Kalvin Phillips was rightly sent off for a woeful sliding tackle in a thriller that ended 4-2 after three goals for Forest in seven minutes.

They face a Derby side that has improved a great deal from the early weeks of the season, when the two met at Pride Park and Leeds romped to a 4-1 win on the road. Frank Lampard has had to learn on the job but to his credit has improved through the season and they are in the playoffs at this stage for the sixth straight season, although they still have to avoid the post-Christmas slumps that have cost them so badly.

He has created a squad that’s very much in his own image with Jack Mariott and Harry Wilson having 10 goals between them whilst Mason Mount and Tom Lawrence have six and five league goals. They are also coping well with their toughest run of games in this season, taking a point from the visits of Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough whilst they recovered from 2-0 and then 3-2 down – with five minutes remaining – to take an astonishing victory against second placed Derby County, the highlight of their season so far.

Leeds United v Derby County
19:45 Sky Sports Football / Sky Sports Main Event

(Maximum 10 matches)
AUG 2018 CHAMPIONSHIP Derby 1-4 Leeds
FEB 2018 CHAMPIONSHIP Derby 2-2 Leeds
OCT 2017 CHAMPIONSHIP Leeds 1-2 Derby
JAN 2017 CHAMPIONSHIP Leeds 1-0 Derby
OCT 2016 CHAMPIONSHIP Derby 1-0 Leeds
DEC 2015 CHAMPIONSHIP Leeds 2-2 Derby
AUG 2015 CHAMPIONSHIP Derby 1-2 Leeds
DEC 2014 CHAMPIONSHIP Derby 2-0 Leeds
NOV 2014 CHAMPIONSHIP Leeds 2-0 Derby
MAY 2014 CHAMPIONSHIP Leeds 1-1 Derby

There’s a temptation to side with them given that their only defeat since December has come at Bramall Lane and if Leeds are hitting a wall then the 16/5 is a big price. However, what feels even more likely is that there’ll be goals. Derby have played the current top 4 six times this season and four of those games have ended with over 2.5 goals whilst all of them have seen both teams scoring.

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