28 games into the Championship 2014/15 season and Leeds find themselves in a home game against another high-flying team in the form of fifth-placed Brentford. Since the F.A.Cup loss to Sunderland at the start of 2015, Leeds have enjoyed the luxury of a 4-game unbeaten run that has seen them navigate a tricky January unbeaten in the league. In that time there have been draws against in-form Bolton and Birmingham and wins against local rivals Huddersfield Town and runaway leaders Bournemouth; two teams where Leeds have done consecutive ‘league doubles’ over. Brentford also enter the game at Elland Road on the back of an impressive January performance with three consecutive wins from the turn of the year only marred by a 1-0 loss last time out against Middlesbrough. In the reverse meeting earlier in the season, Brentford won 2-0 at home with goals scored by Alan McCormack and Jota. In this game Leeds were totally outfought with Brentford having 24 shots (10 on-target) and Leeds only having 13 shots (3 on-target).
Leeds’ last starting line-up [4-2-3-1 formation]
Silvestri (GK), Wootton (RB), Bamba (CB), Cooper (CB), Taylor (LB), Cook (DM), Murphy (DM), Byram (RM), Austin (CM), Mowatt (LM), Morison (ST)
Leeds United team news
Leeds United saw only one enforced change last time out, due to Giuseppe Bellusci serving the first of a two-game suspension, with the inclusion of recent loan signing Sol Bamba. Bamba went on to ‘dance’ his way to a Man-of-the-Match performance against Huddersfield. Highly-rated youngster Lewis Cook has recovered from a slight knee strain and has been passed fit for inclusion in coach Redfearn’s thoughts for Saturday’s squad. One who won’t be in the reckoning is newly-signed loan player Granddi N’Goye who has aggravated a thigh strain and is likely out for around two weeks. Leeds’ other piece of transfer window business, the signing of 6’4″ Albanian striker Edgar Çani could well mean that he will play some part as the lone target man in what is becoming Leeds’ talismanic formation.
Leeds United home performances
Despite being ranked 19th in the Championship table with a total return of 32 points from their 28 games (1.14 points p/game), Leeds are ranked five places higher , in 14th-ranked place when considering their home form. Leeds have a return of 22 from an available 42 points (52.40% of total points) contested at Elland Road (1.57 points p/game) which is in direct opposition to 10 points from an available 42 points (23.80% of total points) on their travels. Differences such as these help to mark out why Leeds are considered a ‘home team’ when it comes to gaining points. At home, Leeds have scored 16 goals and conceded only 12, a difference of +4 goals.
Leeds’ last 5 home games: vs Bournemouth (1-0 win), vs Birmingham (1-1 draw), vs Wigan (0-2 loss), vs Fulham (0-1 loss), vs Derby (2-0 win): 9 points from 15 (60% total points available); scored 4, conceded 4, goal difference 0.
Brentford away performances
Brentford sit in 5th place and are occupying one of the promotion playoff positions with 49 points from their 28 games (1.75 points p/game), a lofty position that is surprising to some. On their travels, Brentford have a consistent 5th-placed ranking in the Championship with 22 points from an available 42 points (52.40% of total points) and at a rate of 1.57 points p/game. Brentford have scored 20 goals on their travels, having 21 scored against them giving a goal difference of -1.
Brentford last 5 away games: vs Norwich (1-2 win), vs Brighton (0-1 win), Wolves (2-1 loss), Cardiff (2-3 win), Huddersfield (2-1 loss): 9 points from 15 (60% total points available); scored 8, conceded 7, goal difference +1.
Leeds vs Brentford – expectations?
Whilst Leeds are low scoring overall and laying low in the full Championship table in 19th place, their form since changing from the unwieldy ‘4-4-2 Diamond’ to the more solid ‘4-2-3-1 Double Six’ has been much better and more cohesive. Also, against ‘top half’ teams, Leeds are much stronger – especially at home. When looking at Leeds’ home form against ‘top half’ teams, Leeds are the 4th-ranked team in the Championship behind Middlesbrough (1st), Wolves (2nd) and Derby (3rd). Of the 6 games against top half opposition, Leeds have won 3, drawn 2 and lost 1 and have recorded 3 clean sheets, scoring 7 and conceding 4 goals. The 11 points Leeds have gained from 18 points available (61.10% of total points available) have recorded 1.83 point p/game against ‘top half’ opponents.
Brentford are consistency personified, ranking as the 6th-placed away team against ‘bottom half’ opponents. Of the 8 games against ‘bottom half’ opponents, Brentford have won 5, drawn 1 and lost 2 and have recorded 3 clean sheets, scoring 13 and conceding 10 goals. The 16 points from 24 points available (66.67% of total points available), that Brentford have earned against ‘bottom half’ opponents have come at the rate of 2.00 points p/game.
The verdict? I can see this being a classic struggle of a form ‘home’ team against a ‘form’ away team; a ‘home’ team scoring few but conceding fewer and an ‘away’ team scoring many, yet conceding ‘more’. Leeds need to nullify the attacking threat posed by Brentford, something they did admirably against the Championship leaders Bournemouth, in order to profit and gain anything from the game. Brentford need to score and hope that they defend well enough to keep Leeds out. I’m going to stick my neck out and predict a 1-1 draw; don’t back on the strength of that though.
Prediction: Leeds 1-1 Brentford
Current match odds (from Sky Bet): Leeds 17/10, Draw 12/5, Brentford 6/4; Leeds 1 – Brentford 1 – odds 5/1