|Leeds United 1 v 0 Reading|
Tuesday, 27th November 2018 Kick-off 19:45
Match Preview: Leeds United v Reading - Will Bielsa's Whites get back-to-back wins?
Tuesday, 27th Nov 2018 16:00 by @LucasMonk_
United are targeting back-to-back victories after seeing off Bristol City at the weekend.
Leeds United will be hopeful of securing back-to-back victories for the first time since August tonight.
Lowly Reading are the visitors to Elland Road. They languish in 20th position. That Paul Clement, their manager, was almost overjoyed at a goalless draw away to Wigan on Saturday tells one all they need to know about their plight.
As was the case at the weekend, this is a match that one would expect any serious promotion contender to win. A red card helped Leeds to an eventually comfortable 2-0 win against Bristol City last time out. This time around, injuries may well aid them as they seek a first win over Reading in three matches.
The Royals are without top scorer Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, who has scored seven goals this season. As if the absence of his heftiness and firepower was not enough, Sam Baldock is also sidelined. This means that Danny Loader, an 18-year-old academy graduate, will most likely fill the striking berth.
The visitors will also have to make a late call on former United loanee Modou Barrow. The Gambian scored the winning goal in a 1-0 victory for his team in this fixture last season. His pace and trickery are vital assets to a team that chiefly plays on the counter.
That is not to say that Leeds are without their own injury issues. Although Bailey Peacock-Farrell is set to return in goal, Pontus Jansson is not yet ready to follow suit in central defence. Therefore, the callow Aapo Halme will keep his place after a dependable debut last time out.
Marcelo Bielsa's charges, however, really ought to win this match. Reading have won just once in their last 17 away matches, and have failed to score in their last two. Conversely, Leeds have lost only once in their last 13 home matches and only Middlesbrough have shut them out.
United will tonight remember Gary Speed, a club icon who tragically committed suicide seven years ago today. With two goals in his last two matches, Pablo Hernandez will be crucial if they are to honour the Welshman with a win.
Writer’s Prediction: Leeds United 3-0 Reading
This match ought to produce a convincing home win. Ought being the operative word.
That is because predicting Championship results is an often Sisyphean task. You roll the bolder up the hill, thinking you have reached the summit, and then it rolls back down apace and knocks you off your feet. You think the match will go one way, and appear to be right, but then it swings the other. Just ask Lee Johnson.
This Leeds team plays some of the most wondrous football. Passing crisply. Tackling cleanly. Scoring freely. And yet there is still a frustrating quality that beacons eminently from their play.
They lack a ruthless streak. They struggle to kill off their prey. They can pin it down, entrap it in a well-woven web of artistic effluvium, but they often struggle to seal the deal. The Sheffield Wednesday match springs to mind, but a more recent example is that of the game last weekend.
In the first half, United had fashioned three clear chances to score. They converted none of them. Bristol City went on to enjoy a good spell during the second period's youth. Had Josh Brownhill not lunged at Kemar Roofe 10 minutes into the half, who knows what may have arisen? Leeds might still have gone on to win. Bristol may have made their opponents pay for their profligacy.
We will never know. But it is uncertainty such as this which has eaten away at myself and many other supporters for too long. We must address this issue of not killing teams off at the critical moment. Reintroducing Jack Clarke and Samuel Saiz into the team would diversify and potentiate our attack. It would be a start.
What is clear is that this is a wonderful opportunity to breathe new life into our season. Reading are almost hopeless. They have several players injured. Paul Clement has tinkered again and again and to no avail. He has played 4-4-2, 5-3-2 and 4-3-3. He will likely use the latter tonight, but his flagrant tactical inconsistency is one of Reading's most exploitable weaknesses.
An early goal, and Leeds are well on their way to back-to-back victories ahead of a crucial Yorkshire derby on Saturday. The Royals will have to alter, or abandon, their strategy. The goal would embolden United and make them given to scoring more. This, one feels, will be key. An early goal to immobilise the prey, and then a few more to finish them off.
Photo: Action Images
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