Premier League: Leeds United v Brighton and Hove Albion

The Whites became something of a laughing stock last weekend when they were eliminated from the FA Cup by a Crawley team which even found time to field a left-back more famous for appearing in TOWIE, but will be hoping to pick up a win to restore some confidence.

Bielsa named a much-changed side for that game in fairness, and will welcome back some more familiar faces for the visit of the Seagulls, with Patrick Bamford the main name Leeds fans will be hoping to see on the score sheet again.

The Argentine boss admitted he got some of his substitutions wrong in that game, most notably the one which saw Liam Cooper withdrawn at half-time. The Leeds captain is expected to return to the starting XI when Brighton come to Elland Road though, with Luke Ayling alongside him as Robin Koch and Diego Llorente remain injured. As well as their centre back pair, Leeds are without influential midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who serves a one-game ban for picking up five yellow cards.

Illan Meslier will also return between the sticks, replacing Kiko Casilla, who had a shocker when given the chance to impress against Crawley. It’s hard to believe the Spaniard was one of Real Madrid’s signings to replace Iker Casillas a few years back, given his nightmare stint in England so far.

Brighton have had goalkeeping issues of their own recently, with Robert Sanchez taking the gloves from Mat Ryan after the Aussie’s poor run of form. Sanchez has established himself as the club’s new number one, with Ryan rumoured to be leaving the club in the January transfer window.

Graham Potter will be hoping his side can pick up a much needed win, with the Seagulls verging on the brink of the bottom three, and without a victory in their five league games. Narrow defeats to Arsenal and Manchester City have been complimented by score draws with Sheffield United, West Ham and Wolves, but it’s not been enough to lift Brighton any higher than 17th.

A win on Saturday could take them above Burnley, and they’ll have Yves Bissouma back available after suspension to try and do it. Adam Lallana, Danny Welbeck, Tariq Lamptey, Alireza Jahanbaksh and Aaron Connolly are all out. Percy Tau and Neal Maupay will battle to be named up front.

Leeds take on Brighton on Saturday, January 16th. Kick-off is at 3pm.

Premier League: Leeds United vs Newcastle United

Marcelo Bielsa’s side will be aiming to stop a run of two successive defeats, after losing away at Chelsea before a 2-1 defeat to West Ham last time out, while Newcastle are in contrasting form.

The Magpies beat Crystal Palace before a COVID-19 outbreak caused a delay to their season, before beating West Brom at home on Saturday thanks to a late Dwight Gayle header. It’s the first time Newcastle have won back-to-back games this season.

Before the West Ham game, Bielsa named his starting XI during his pre-match press conference, but has said he will stop revealing team news from now on after the attention it received. It’s commonplace across Europe to reveal line-ups well before kick-off, but after defeat to David Moyes’s side, it won’t be something the Argentinian will repeat.

In another contrast, Steve Bruce kept his cards so close to his chest that Newcastle’s line-up against West Brom was a complete mystery until an hour before kick-off, with the club struggling to count the bodies available after the COVID outbreak caused a postponement against Aston Villa.

As it turned out, only three players who started the win over Palace were missing, with Isaac Hayden filling in at centre-back. This week, Federico Fernandez has returned to training and will be available for the trip to Leeds though, meaning Hayden may return to a more familiar central midfield role.

Newcastle will be without Paul Dummett and Martin Dubravka through injury, and there’s questions over Ryan Fraser, Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles, who all missed the win over West Brom.

Leeds also have defensive worries, with new signings Robin Koch and Diego Llorente both injured, meaning Luke Ayling is likely to continue at centre-back alongside Liam Cooper. Adam Forshaw and Gaetano Berardi are also missing.

A win for Newcastle could take them into the top half of the Premier League table, while Leeds could go 11th if they manage to get their first win in December and other results go their way.

Leeds take on Newcastle United at Elland Road on Wednesday, December 16th. Kick-off is at 6pm.

Premier League: Leeds vs West Ham United

With almost a quarter of the season gone in a flash, both sides will be happy with where they find themselves after 11 games, with the Hammers heading into the game in eighth place, a position that they’d be thrilled to hold on to until the season’s end.

West Ham’s turnaround after a tough start to the season has been impressive, and David Moyes will lock horns with Marcelo Bielsa knowing that a win could take them fifth before their rivals play.

Speaking of Bielsa, the likeable Argentinian coach took the unusual step of naming his full Leeds team to play West Ham during Thursday’s press conference after being asked whether he had any surprises in store for Moyes.

The former Marseille manager reeled off his XI, which includes Luke Ayling at centre-back alongside Liam Cooper in place of Robin Koch, who will miss the next three months through injury, with summer signing Rodrigo starting in midfield.

Other than that, the Whites will be unchanged from the side that lost 3-1 to Chelsea last weekend. Patrick Bamford described Frank Lampard’s side as the best he’s faced this season, and will continue to lead the line as he looks to notch his ninth goal of an impressive season so far.

For the travelling Irons, top scorer Michail Antonio will miss out with a thigh injury picked up recently, so Sebastien Haller is likely to continue in his absence. There’s more positive news in the shape of Ryan Fredericks though, as the right-back should make the squad after a groin strain.

Andriy Yarmolenko is regaining fitness after contracting coronavirus, and should also be involved after missing the defeat to Manchester United last weekend.

Leeds United take on West Ham at Elland Road on Friday, December 11th. Kick-off is at 8pm.

Leeds boss Bielsa confirms defensive absentees

Germany centre-half Koch will be sidelined for around three months following a successful knee operation, while Spain international Llorente could be out for up to three weeks, Bielsa said.

Koch, who had surgery on Tuesday, had been playing with a knee injury since arriving from Freiburg in the summer and damaged it further in last week’s defeat at Chelsea.

Bielsa said: “The surgery went well and the length of Koch’s absence depends on the evolution, but he’s likely to be out for around three months.

“It’s a shame to miss him for such a period of time, but during a season this is normal for injuries like this to happen to a team.”

Bielsa said Luke Ayling, Pascal Struijk, Kalvin Phillips and Gaetano Berardi, who is working his way back from a long-term knee injury, would provide sufficient cover in central defence.

“We’re not thinking of the possibility of bringing another centre-back into the team,” Bielsa added. “And apart from that we also expect to count on Berardi from February.”

Midfielders Pablo Hernandez (muscle strain) and Jamie Shackleton (thigh) have recovered from their respective injuries and will be available to face West Ham.

Wolves up to sixth after narrow 0-1 victory at Leeds.

The Mexico striker’s tame second-half effort wrong-footed the Leeds United goalkeeper after hitting Kalvin Phillips on the head to seal his side’s third league win of the season.

But in reality, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, who were poor in the first half, were fortunate to leave Elland Road with all three points having been outplayed by Leeds in the first 45mins.

Leeds made a flying start. Patrick Bamford had an early header ruled out for offside and they had a penalty appeal turned down after Helder Costa went down under Joao Moutinho’s challenge.

Rodrigo also headed over and Costa dragged another effort wide after more slick build-up down the right, with Wolves pinned in their own half. Captain Luke Ayling and Rodrigo also squandered good chances in the first half which, had they found the net, could have changed the course of the night of Bielsa’s team.

Wolves woke up in the second half starting the period with a VAR ruled-out goal after the officials deemed Daniel Podence to be in an offside postion. Podence had another chance moments later forcing Meslier into a flying save and suddenly the game looked to be turning in Wolves favour.

It was talismanic striker Raul Jimenez who finally broke the deadlock on the 70th minute after he was allowed far to much time, cutting in from the right and deflecting a shot in off Phillips head which wrong footed Meslier, and the Leeds keeper could only watch the ball hit the opposite corner of his goal.

Pablo Hernandez had a chance to pull it back for Leeds but was denied by a Willy Boly block and even late substitue Raphinha, making his debut in place of Jack Harrison, but failed to carve out a clear opening and Wolves held on.

Leeds United 0 Wolves 1… and up to Sixth.

Leeds United snatch 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City

Pep Guardiola’s side dominated the first half with Raheem Sterling deservedly putting them ahead, but Marcelo Bielsa’s men proved their worth after the break to secure a vital point for the hosts

City were at their flowing best right from the start at Elland Road, as Kevin De Bruyne smashed an early free against the post.

The visitors pushed on from there as debutant Ruben Dias headed just wide, and Ferran Torres tested Illian Meslier.

With all one-way traffic against the under-siege hosts, City finally cracked their resistance on 17 minutes, as Sterling swerved past two tackles and fired home.

However, with City unable to find a second goal before the break, Leeds almost produced an equaliser as Ederson saved brilliantly from Luke Ayling.

Bielsa threw on Rodrigo just after the break, and the Spaniard wrestled Leeds back into the game on the hour.

Ederson made a mess of Stuart Dallas’ corner and the former Valencia striker reacted smartly to tap home his first Leeds goal.

Leeds’ equaliser shook the game into life in the closing stages, as Ederson redeemed himself with a brilliant stop from Rodrigo and Meslier denied Sterling.

But in the end neither side had enough to nick the win on a rainy night in Yorkshire.