Leeds United face the first of two tests of their Play-Off credentials and promotion chances when they face Brighton at Elland Road under the glare of the Sky Sports cameras tonight. After the international break, a trip to Reading will see the Whites complete back-to-back games against sides currently second and fourth in the table.
Forgetting about Reading until April 1, Leeds eyes will be firmly focused on the visit of the Seagulls for this evening’s game at Elland Road, a game played out in front of what will be a raucous and vociferous 30,000+ crowd. Leeds are unbeaten in their last six games, but will be facing a Brighton side who have beaten them in the last six games played between the two sides.
it has been a season of much joy for both sets of fans. Brighton fans have seen their side play sparkling football at times, football that has seen them stay in the top two for most of the season. French forward Anthony Knockaert has had a hand in nine goals in his last nine Sky Bet Championship appearances, scoring three times and adding six assists.
On the other hand, Leeds have won 20 games in this seasons Sky Bet Championship – this beating the tally of wins in each of their last six seasons. Their fifth place has largely been achieved on the back of a much-improved defence alongside the 22 goals from Chris Wood, these goals being scored in a league-leading 19 games.
A win for Brighton could see them retake the summit, should Newcastle slip up against Birmingham. Three points for Leeds would see them climb to 70 points and could potentially see them climb to 69 points, good enough for fourth in the table and only two points from third place held by
Home side Leeds are missing players due to both injury and suspension for the game later today. Injury wise, Leeds United are missing the long-term, left-back absentees of Lewie Coyle and fellow youngster Tyler Denton. Suspension-wise, the Whites will have to do without Kalvin Phillips, who is serving the last of his two-match suspension for his second sending off this season. Regular right-back Luke Ayling also misses out after picking up ten yellow cards for the season, meaning that there will be a certain amount of reshuffling at the back for the home side. Aside from that, Garry Monk told the Leeds United club website that the club have a full bill of health and player availability.
Brighton and Hove Albion
The Seagulls also have players missing out chiefly centre-backs Connor Goldson and Shane Duffy. 24-year-old Goldson has missed 10 matches with a heart condition, Duffy being absent for the last eight games with a metatarsal fracture. Seagulls’ boss Chris Hughton told the club website that left-backs Gaetan Bong and Sébastien Pocognoli will also miss out with the Blackburn game after the international break likely to be a return point for the pairing. Recent defensive signing Vegard Forren is not being considered with Hughton saying that his fitness needs to be brought up a little.
Expected starting XIs
Leeds United (4-2-3-1): Green – Taylor, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi – Bridcutt, O’Kane – Pedraza, Hernández, Sacko – Wood
Brighton and Hove Albion (4-4-2): Stockdale – Rosenior, Dunk, Hünemeier, Bruno – Skalak, Kayal, Stephens, Knockaert – Murray, Baldock
Sky Bet odds: Leeds United (home win) 21/10 – Draw 23/10 – Brighton (away win) 7/5
Bookmakers Sky Bet see this game as a close one, as you’d expect for two sides slugging it out at the head of the table. Leeds’ home defence, only 12 conceded in 19 games this season (0.63 goals conceded per game), will come up against a dangerous Brighton away attack that has scored 23 goals in 18 games away from the AMEX this season (1.28 goals per game).
Other available bets
- Full time and BTTS: Leeds and Yes 11/2, Brighton and Yes 4/1, Leeds and No 4/1, Brighton and No 11/4
- Full Time Result and U/O 2.5 goals: Leeds and Under 2.5 9/2, Brighton and Under 100/30, Leeds and Over 9/2, Brighton and Over 3/1
- First Goalscorer: Leeds – Chris Wood 4/1, Souleymane Doukara 7/1, Pablo Hernández 17/2, Kemar Roofe 9/1, Hadi Sacko 9/1, Alfonso Pedraza 11/1; Brighton – Glenn Murray 9/2, Sam Baldock 5/1, Tomer Hemed 11/2, Anthony Knockaert 6/1, Jiri Skalak 10/1
This will be a close-fought battle between two very good sides capable of equally good performances. Leeds couldn’t have hoped for a better time to face Brighton, in front of a huge Elland Road crowd and with rivals Huddersfield picking up points, apart from last night, just behind them. It will be a tough encounter, much more so than this season’s meeting at the AMEX where Brighton emerged victorious 2-0 thanks to a brace of penalties from Glenn Murray and Tomer Hemed against 10-man Leeds who had midfielder Kalvin Phillips red-carded for intentional hand-ball on the line.
Prediction: Leeds 1 – Brighton 2