Premier League: Newcastle v Leeds

Steve Bruce’s side are winless in six league games, slipping down the league table in the process. They find themselves 16th going into this game, with the gap between the Magpies and 18th-placed Fulham seven points.

That gap sounds large, but with Fulham improving of late and taking on 17th-placed Brighton on Wednesday, things could get uncomfortable if Newcastle don’t pick up points quickly.

They were awful again on Saturday night, offering little resistance as Aston Villa cruised to a 2-0 win at Villa Park, and must come up with a better game plan that saw them lose 5-2 in the reverse fixture at Elland Road earlier this season.

In fact, that night could be seen as the night when things started to go downhill fast for Steve Bruce, as Newcastle haven’t won a game since, as well as exiting two cup competitions. Fans have lost patience, with flags and banners on show around Newcastle urging the board to do something about the problem they’re facing, and a cabbage appearing impaled on the gates of St James’ Park at the weekend.

Ahead of the game, Bruce refused to speak to written journalists during the pre-match press conference, despite vowing multiple times not to “shy away” from the challenge facing him. One of the questions they’d have asked would be regarding DeAndre Yedlin’s VISA issue, with the club failing to renew his paperwork in time for him to be in the squad for the Villa game.

If that situation is fixed, Yedlin will be in the squad for Leeds, but fellow defenders Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez and Paul Dummett are all out with injuries. Javier Manquillo is rated at 50/50 as he continues to feel the effects of COVID.

Electric winger Allan Saint-Maximin got through 20 minutes against Villa but is unlikely to be fit enough to start after just a handful of training sessions since November.

Leeds are starting to get some bodies back after something of an injury crisis, with Diego Llorente available again after a muscular injury. Illan Meslier should replace Kiko Casilla after missing the defeat to Brighton with a knock, but Adam Forshaw, Robin Koch and Gaetano Berardi are long-term absentees.

As mentioned, the Whites aren’t in the best of form right now, having lost their last three games in a row in all competitions, failing to score in the process. With that in mind, a game against Newcastle, who have the worst goal difference of any side outside the bottom two could be perfect, as the likes of Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison look to repeat the goal scoring performances they managed against the Geordies last time.

Newcastle take on Leeds on Tuesday, January 26th. Kick-off is at 6pm.

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 Preview: Tottenham v Leeds

Bielsa has stuck steadfastly to his offensive game plan in the face of heavy criticism following his side’s recent 6-2 defeat at Manchester United.

He has been rewarded though with back-to-back wins and two clean sheets against Burnley and West Brom, but acknowledged Leeds, who have not won in the capital in over three years, face a step up in class.

Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham are set to be without Giovani Lo Celso and Gareth Bale – the Welshman was withdrawn in their EFL Cup tie at Stoke last week after picking up an injury.

Leeds meanwhile remain without their captain, Liam Cooper, who is still suffering from the abdominal issue that kept him out of their win over Burnley.

Bielsa is also missing long term absentee Robin Koch with a knee injury, and Mateusz Klich picked up a knock in midweek, so is touch and go.

Spurs against Leeds is the lunchtime game on Saturday with kick off at 1230.

Premier League: West Bromwich Albion vs Leeds United

Sam Allardyce’s side produced a solid defensive performance in their trip to Anfield and will have to duplicate that against the restless attack of Leeds.

The Baggies still only have one win in the league this season and sit 12 points behind Bielsa’s side whom they were promoted with after the last campaign.

As for Leeds United, a win could see them creep into the top half of the table. They’d overtake West Ham and Wolverhampton Wanderers to move into 10th.

The fixture has many notable omissions, West Brom midfielder Jake Livermore misses out due to suspension. While Hal Robson-Kanu, Kyle Bartley and Conor Townsend are also all out with injury.

As for the visitors, Leeds defender Liam Cooper is set to miss out due to an abdominal strain, while fellow centre back Diego Llorente is a doubt after a muscle issue. They join the list of central defensive absentees for Bielsa’s side with Robin Koch also sidelined long-term.

Leeds picked up 4 of the possible 6 points from the two meetings between the sides in the Championship last season, winning 1-0 at Elland Road and drawing 1-1 in the reverse.

The game kicks off at 18:00 pm on Tuesday 29th December.

Premier League: West Bromwich Albion vs Leeds United

Sam Allardyce’s side produced a solid defensive performance in their trip to Anfield and will have to duplicate that against the restless attack of Leeds.

The Baggies still only have one win in the league this season and sit 12 points behind Bielsa’s side whom they were promoted with after the last campaign.

As for Leeds United, a win could see them creep into the top half of the table. They’d overtake West Ham and Wolverhampton Wanderers to move into 10th.

The fixture has many notable omissions, West Brom midfielder Jake Livermore misses out due to suspension. While Hal Robson-Kanu, Kyle Bartley and Conor Townsend are also all out with injury.

As for the visitors, Leeds defender Liam Cooper is set to miss out due to an abdominal strain, while fellow centre back Diego Llorente is a doubt after a muscle issue. They join the list of central defensive absentees for Bielsa’s side with Robin Koch also sidelined long-term.

Leeds picked up 4 of the possible 6 points from the two meetings between the sides in the Championship last season, winning 1-0 at Elland Road and drawing 1-1 in the reverse.

The game kicks off at 18:00 pm on Tuesday 29th December.

Injury woes continue to affect Leeds United

The Spanish defender is fit again after successive muscle injuries and is poised for his full Premier League debut, three months after joining from Real Sociedad.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche declared this week that his side will target Leeds’ vulnerability at set-pieces and Cooper, ruled out due to an abdominal strain, could be sorely missed.

The Leeds captain has had his fair share of criticism during the club’s rise back to the Premier League, but boss Marcelo Bielsa has only expressed admiration for the former Chesterfield defender.

“Cooper has lost out the most in the aerial duels in these last 14 games,” Bielsa said when reviewing last week’s 6-2 defeat at Manchester United.

“It’s like this because he always defends against the best opposing header.

“In this game, he scored and neutralised (Harry) Maguire, who is a very a good header of the ball. That’s the process I am looking for, to get closer to the best.”

The Scotland international was forced off at Old Trafford and joins fellow centre-half, Robin Koch, on the sidelines.

Bielsa has no other new injury worries as his side face three fixtures in six days, which could have a huge bearing on their season.

Leeds sit 14th in the table, four points and two places above Burnley, and play at second-from-bottom West Brom on Tuesday before next weekend’s game at Tottenham.

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.

Leeds defender to undergo surgery

The 24-year-old initially sustained the injury on his debut in the opening game of the season against Liverpool.

But after playing through a hectic spell of 10 games plus an international break with Germany, Koch suffered further damage against the Blues.

Koch was due to undergo an operation in London on Tuesday after the club determined that “surgery is required to remedy the problem”.

It is another blow for Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, who is faced with having only two fit senior centre-backs in his squad.

Diego Llorente and Liam Cooper are Bielsa’s current remaining options with no indication as yet of how long Koch will be sidelined.

Leeds United 1 – 4 Leicester City: Leicester hand out Premier League reality check to Leeds.

First-half goals from Harvey Barnes and Youri Tielemans, bookended by two poor Patrick Bamford misses, had the Foxes in complete control on a typically wet Yorkshire night.

Leeds have earned many plaudits since their top-flight return and in their previous losses, to Liverpool and Wolves, there were arguments to be made for them deserving something, though the same could not be said here.

Bamford will not be in the Bielsa’s goodbooks after his display infront of goal and it was his tame header on 2 minutes, from just six yards out that allowed Leicester to get ahead in the match early doors.

The Foxes cleared their lines back to Leeds, but Robin Koch’s backpass was off target and short, holding up on the sodden gorund, which allowed Vardy to nip in, tempt keeper Meslier into coming out and tee up Ashely Barnes to finish in an open goal.

It was more Vardy brilliance for the second on 21 minutes too getting to Marc Albrightons cross first with a diving header that Tielemands durly coverted.

Leeds had a chance to pull one back before the break but again Bamford uncharicaristically failed to control Luke Aylings pass when he was clean through and just 12 yards from Kasper Schmeichel’s goal.

Leeds were back in it after the restart after Stuart Dallas’ cross floated into the net but the game was out of sight on on 76 mins despite some good chances for the home side before that point.

Substitute James Maddison sent fellow replacement Cengiz Under clear and he had the presence of mind to stand up a pass for Vardy who did the rest from close to the penalty spot.

It was from the penalty sport that Leicester sealed the win in added time with Tielemans firng in from 12 yards after a VAR awarded penatly after a foul from Klich on Maddison.

Leeds will no doubt take 12th in the table at this stage of the season but Brendon Rodgers will be dreaming of a 2016 repeat as they move up to second and a point of Liverpool at the top.