All Leeds, aren’t we? Well, if the intended use of that phrase was to reference the fact that, as humans, we may be attractive but we’re universally flawed and inconsistent by our very nature – then I suppose, yes, we really are all Leeds.
What would Crystal Palace’s slogan be, by the same token?
‘All managed by an auld fella who, just as you think you can move on from, pops up and surprises you and makes you believe he brings out the best in you the odd time, and it’s worth the existential pain you suffer in the interim aren’t we?’
Probably a tad long, alright. Either way, these two face off on Saturday in a game that really should, if not designate them towards a certain region of the table, put a cap on their ambitions. If Leeds win this, we can forgive the Leicester pasting and see them as genuine top half contenders, while a Palace loss sees them probably looking over their shoulders for another year?
It’s a lot to take in this early on a Saturday isn’t it? Either way, it should serve up some very decent football to pacify our minds. Three best bets? Gotcha.
You know what teams like Palace love? Not having to compete for any balls in midfield. Leeds won’t test you like that. They don’t waste energy passing between their centre-halves, their holding midfielder, their full-backs – and then back to their goalkeeper.
They get the ball, and they try to find a killer pass fairly early on. When they do that, they generally sacrifice shape somewhat. And about nine times out of ten, they hand possession to the opposition. With Leeds frequently asking a lot of a single midfielder to cover 50 yards of space as full-backs go forward and Mateusz Klich joins up play – they’re very exposed.
It should at least play into the narrative that there’ll be a lot of active game time where the ball is in the final thirds, and not just for the sake of it. And, genuinely – do you believe Leeds are capable of participating in a low-scoring encounter on the regular? Not for me.
While we’re on that train of thought, it’s worth considering where Palace are weak. It’s tracking midfield runs. See, generally, they sit in and soak up pressure, but their defensive line won’t have any business being that deep against Leeds because all they do is switch play and get it into the box.
Good theory, isn’t it?
Palace’s midfield players are disciplined when everything is in front of them but they frequently drop runners when tempo is increased, and well, tempo is generally always on the upper end of manic with Marcelo Bielsa.
It might seem like a cop-out because we’re playing the percentages but I still feel there’s enough reason in games featuring these two teams to take this price. Leeds are both cynical enough at the back to take someone out if it means saving the opportunity to take points, and deft enough in the opposition box to win spot-kicks.
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