MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at Thursday night’s live Championship encounter between Leeds and Blackburn.
Leeds v Blackburn | Thursday 19.45 | Sky Sports 1
It’s a fifth new dawn at Elland Road in 16 months with Steve Evans the latest manager to be handed the keys to Leeds. How long controversial owner Massimo Cellino will give the ex-Rotherham and Crawley boss in control remains to be seen but I believe he’s more than capable of rallying the current crop.
Thursday night will see the Scot take charge of his first home fixture after overseeing successive 1-1 draws at Fulham and Bolton respectively. The Whites were the better team against the Londoners and finished Saturday’s clash against the Trotters in the ascendency so early signs do suggest a licker of promise.
Before Evans arrived in West Yorkshire, Leeds had lost four in five and after stopping the rot, the new number one has set his sights on addressing the Whites’ abysmal home record. The Scot suggested an 11-match winless streak at Elland Road was a ‘disgrace’ for the size and stature of the club.
It’s just one loss in seven on the road but their W0-D3-L3 return in front of their home fans in 2015/16 represents the Championship’s worst home record and Evans knows sorting out those Yorkshire blues will be crucial in lifting Leeds away from the relegation zone.
Since taking charge at Elland Road, Evans has ditched predecessor Uwe Rosler’s 4-2-3-1 formation and started Mirko Antenucci up front alongside Chris Wood in a more traditional and simplified approach. From previous roles we know the Scot will look to employ an attacking and aggressive style to his side and they’ll certainly fancy their chances against a Blackburn side without a clean sheet on the road.
Like their hosts at home, Rovers are yet to taste victory on their travels (W0-D3-L3) this term, extending their winless away record to nine. Just two three-pointers in 14 games in all competitions has brought the spotlight onto Gary Bowyer and if certain media outlets are to be believed, the Blackburn boss is on borrowed time.
Last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Burnley in the east Lancashire derby hit the side hard as Rovers bossed the majority of that match, enjoyed more ball possession, created the better chances but squandered a number of openings when well placed. The visitors have now drawn blanks in each of their last three.
There remains an overreliance on Jordan Rhodes to produce the goods. The Scottish international has scored seven league goals in 11 appearances but the rest of the squad needs to chip in and take the weight of his heavy shoulders. Even so, with Leeds notching just a solitary shutout this season – and conceding in each of their last 11 – it would be a surprise if Blackburn didn’t grab a goal.
The Both Teams To Score bet has been very profitable when following Rovers on the road. Since the start of last season, 20/29 (69%) away Blackburn games have banked for BTTS backers and a repeat can be snapped up at 10/11 with William Hill – not bad when you consider the duo boast just five clean sheets in 26 league outings between them in 2015/16.
The two teams also have a penchant for stalemates. Leeds have drawn a league-high seven games, including two in two since Evans was appointed. Blackburn have shared the spoils on six occasions so immediately a play on the draw comes into focus. However, having already backed BTTS I’m going to have a wee wager on the 1-1 correct score at a chunkier price of 6/1 with BetVictor.
Six of Leeds’ last eight have ended 1-1 including all three of their Elland Road draws this term. Exactly half of Blackburn’s six stalemates have followed suit and with the 1-1 correct score winning on 29/156 (19%) of Championship matches this term, the 6/1 offers a hefty slice of value. When translating the odds into percentage probability, a 6/1 shot represents just a 14% chance of copping.
Leeds v Blackburn – Both Teams To Score (10/11 William Hill)
Leeds v Blackburn – 1-1 correct score (6/1 BetVictor)
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