, Leeds United: 3 things to look for from QPR game

Leeds United: 3 things to look for from QPR game

Tomorrow a summer of anticipation all boils down to just 90 minutes of football as Leeds United kick off their 2016/17 campaign in the capital against Queens Park Rangers.

Leeds will take a much-changed squad down to Loftus Road, potentially containing all seven new signings and loanees. Last season’s games between the two sides were tight affairs with QPR taking four points from the available six courtesy of a 1-0 win at Loftus Road and a 1-1 draw at Elland Road in the reverse fixture.

The bookies already have tomorrow down as another tight affair with very little to split the teams. However, they do favour QPR slightly over the Whites to do the business on their own patch.

However win, lose or draw these are five things that Leeds United might want to look out for.

Three things Leeds for fans to look for vs QPR

1. A sense of cohesion at the centre of defence

“Offense sells tickets, defenses win championships,” said legendary University of Alabama American Football coach Bear Bryant. This is something that Leeds fans might want to look out for in the QPR game. To be honest, United are pretty set and solid at the corners, with first-choice full-backs Charlie Taylor and Gaetano Berardi pretty much shoe-ins for those positions. As ever though, it’s the creaking centre of the defence where Leeds fans’ worries lie.

On-loan Kyle Bartley and club captain Sol Bamba are likely to be the two that will start the game tomorrow, with the only other recognised centre-back in Liam Cooper not likely to be risked after playing no part in pre-season. Now whilst both Bartley and Bamba are proper units by size, many fans are not sold on Bamba at the moment, citing inconsistencies in his defending and a tendency to be somewhat error-prone at times.

What fans will be looking for, indeed hoping for, will be that Leeds are a little more solid and reliable at the back. Both players looked good together in pre-season, but in the final pre-season game against Atalanta there was a definite sense of defensive creaking to be seen. A solid, well solid’ish’, display from the central defensive duo will give the doubting fans something to chew over and the partnership something to build on.

2. Will the Roofe, the Roofe be on fire

Leeds have invested nearly £3m in former Oxford flyer Kemar Roofe. Roofe is a player who tore League Two apart last year on the way to being crowned League Two Player of the Year. He scored 25 goals in 49 games for Oxford last term; this including 17 goals in League Two coming at the rate of a goal every 197 minutes. To put that into perspective, 197 minutes per goal is the equivalent to a 21-a-season striker. Not only was he a scorer, but he was also a provider too – laying on 10 goals for Oxford last season.

What Leeds fans will be wanting to look out for will be what Roofe can bring two divisions up from where he put on a masterclass. The speed and movement will, of course, remain as will the general skill-set that he possesses – those things will not diminish with the two-tier jump in divisions. What will be interesting for Leeds fans though is whether those intangibles that he possesses will be seen tomorrow and whether he will pose a similar threat to a higher class of defender.

No one is expecting Kemar Roofe to have a carbon copy season this time out like he had last year. It would be nice but I don’t think any Leeds fan is thinking that Kemar Roofe will hit 15+ goals this season. What will be encouraging is to see just what he brings to a bigger table in tomorrow’s game.

3. Ronaldo Vieira as the next gleaming gem

Ronaldo Vieira is the boy who shot out from nowhere and into the Leeds United first team – there’s a touch of Roy of the Rovers about the story. Playing as a trialist in a friendly fixture against an Isle of Man FC side for Leeds’ Under-21s, the club liked what they saw and signed him from the i2i Academy to a two-year scholarship in September last year. Impressive displays with the Under-18s and Under-21s saw him sign a professional contract in May 2016, his first team début coming a few days later with a cameo from the bench in the final game of the season against Preston North End.

This pre-season he has done nothing but impress Leeds fans with the maturity and level of displays that he is showing in the centre of the park. In the final pre-season friendly against Atalanta BC, he did not look out-of-place commanding the middle of the field against a 33-cap Slovenian international in Jasmin Kurtic and a highly rated four-cap Ivory Coast youngster in Franck Kessie.

Such has been Ronaldo Vieira’s rise to prominence that many are tipping him for a start tomorrow at QPR, thrown in at the deep end so-to-speak. Leeds fans will want to watch out and observe how he copes with the hustle and bustle of a typical Championship game where points are at stake. He certainly didn’t look ut of place against good opposition in Atalanta, but will he be able to show that consistently over a 46-game season? That’s something Leeds fans are itching to find out.

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