FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his betting views on Tuesday’s Championship contest between Leeds and Derby.
Leeds v Derby | Tuesday 19.45 | Sky Sports 1
Who do you support? If you follow a Football League team and don’t own a season ticket, I reckon Leeds are probably your second side. You might not know it but the Whites are most probably your most watched Football League club. Honest.
Yes, since the start of the 2014/15 campaign up until the end of January 2016, Leeds will have had 19 matches screened live by Sky Sports. That’s a ridiculous 25% of their Championship games on the box. So welcome to the unknowing Leeds fan club – I’m sure there’s a fair few of us unwittingly paid up members….
Now I’ve gotten that whinge off my chest, it’s time to have a look at their fixture with Derby. Actually, I’ve bleated on about Leeds enough in recent weeks, as well as my admiration for Steve Evans, to rightfully receive a few unimpressed tweets and comments.
So I’ll try keep things short and sweet. You can read why I think Evans is a strong reason why the Whites are genuine candidates to finish in the top-half as well as the play-off positions at fancy prices in my Half-Term Report here.
But looking towards Elland Road on Tuesday night, it’s difficult to justify a pro-Leeds angle or to talk up Evans’ troops with any sense of real purpose. You see, although the Whites have won as many home games in their last four (W3-D0-L1) as they had in their previous 20 (W3-D6-L11), the fiery Glaswegian boss has as good as written off this contest.
Yes, Evans has been ranting and raving to the press about Leeds’ fixture scheduling which is allowing promotion-chasing Derby an extra 24 hours rest ahead of this match. The marmite man has he even suggested there’s a conspiracy theory against the club and confirmed he’ll be forced into squad rotation.
Now I’d never write off a Steve Evans side but (it’s a big but), Leeds just don’t have the numbers or names to successfully ring the changes. They’ll be organised, they’ll be determined, resolute and they’ll fight for every ball but they’ll be tired and almost using this as a free hit. The siege mentality created makes anything but a loss a bonus.
Leeds performed well enough to earn a point at Nottingham Forest on Sunday to move into the top-12 on goal difference before Bank Holiday but it’s true too that the Tricky Trees fluffed numerous counter-attacking opportunities. The Whites have lost just three of 12 under the rotund Scotsman but this is without doubt their toughest test.
As for the visitors, cast your mind back to late August. A late Chris Wood goal had just handed Leeds a victory at the iPro Stadium in front of the television cameras and new head coach Paul Clement was still searching for his first league success in charge of Derby (W0-D4-L1).
Then look at the Rams’ record since September and that encounter – it’s frighteningly good. Derby have W13-D4-L1 and kept 12 clean sheets in the process to rocket into the top-two of the Championship. Nobody’s questioning Clement now, eh?
The travellers boast the best road record (W6-D4-L1) and can call upon the division’s strongest away defence – six clean sheets in 11. Derby have won at Ipswich and Hull in recent weeks, have won eight of their last 11, shutout six of their previous seven opponents and won ‘to nil’ in each of their last seven triumphs. They’re a machine, right now.
The Rams are 21/20 (Bet365) pokes here and it’s hard to argue with that – Derby have won more than they haven’t when away from the iPro – and Leeds have scored just eight in 11 at Elland Road, failing to score in half of their last eight in front of their home supporters.
But I think there’s a chance to be a bit bolder. Collectively, the two teams have recorded 17/22 (77%) of Under 2.5 Goals winners in their respective home/away games and so another low-scoring clash could be on the cards.
We can back Derby at 6/1 (888 Sport) to win 1-0 and 19/2 (888 Sport) to run out 2-0 winners. Both are strong candidates and I’ll back ‘em both – the alternative is to take Derby to win and Under 2.5 Goals but the 14/5 (Boylesports) isn’t as attractive as backing the correct scores indivisually.
I’m also taking a rare venture into the Double Result market. Leeds have posted the league’s worst half-time results at home (W1-D5-L5) but under Evans their return reads W1-D3-L1 at the interval at Elland Road. However, they’ve scored just two first-half goals and failed to notch before half-time in nine of their 12 overall under the Scotsman.
However, Derby certainly aren’t fast starters. The Rams have led at the break in just three of their 11 away days and seven of 23 league games overall. With Leeds fiercely competitive under Evans but likely to fatigue in the second 45 minutes, I’ll have a wee stab on Clement’s charges at 4/1 (BetVictor) having been held at half-time.
Leeds v Derby – Derby to win 1-0 (6/1 888 Sport)
Leeds v Derby – Derby to win 2-0 (19/2 888 Sport)
Leeds v Derby – Draw-Derby Half-Time/Full-Time (4/1 BetVictor)
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