CHAMPIONSHIP specialist Vince Blissett (@Vince_RFC) shares his verdict from Saturday's contest between Nottingham Forest and Leeds.
Nottingham Forest v Leeds | Saturday 26th August 2017, 17:30 | Sky Sports
Nottingham Forest v Leeds rounds out the opening segment of the Championship season in what was once upon a time a massive fixture, so I’m told.
Amazingly this is Leeds’ third televised fixture already, although much like last weekend, they’ve found themselves up against a big club.
Forest were my dark horses going into the season and have started well picking up nine points. They may have been fortunate to pick up maximum points against Millwall and Brentford but wins our wins.
As is so often the case, the one defeat came in the game where a victory was most deserved, so it does even things out slightly.
Mark Warburton and his troops have been slowly improving game-on-game though and their best performance came last weekend, beating the pre season favourites in Middlesbrough with a very good performance.
The Tricky Trees are a team full of exciting youngsters, such as Joe Worral, Barry McKay, Zack Clough, Ben Brereton and Kieran Dowell all standing out. Crucially, there’s also a nice mixture of experience littered throughout the squad, which can only be of benefit to them as the season goes on.
I opposed Leeds last weekend and it backfired with the Whites picking up all three points at Sunderland. I didn’t get to see the match but from the short highlights and looking at the stats, it appears like they were fortunate to do so.
Sunderland had far more chances and also much better ones than Leeds were able to create, yet couldn’t convert.
Chris Wood missed that game due to his now completed move to Burnley and Caleb Ekuban is injured so they are without an out-and-out striker for the time being. Boss Thomas Christiansen has a number of options in the final third though, so it’ll be interesting to see how they line up.
The betting angle
I’m tempted to go against Leeds again but after way they came away from Sunderland with the points fresh in the mind, I’m not so keen.
Defensively, they’ve been relatively solid having picked up three clean sheets in four, although perhaps have ridden their luck a little at times. At the other end, it’s a bit of the same, just not quite clicking in the league just yet.
Forest, on the other hand, have got it working in the attacking department but not overly convincing at the back. Ignoring the opening gam – which was a bit of a freak match – Forest have scored seven and conceded six.
All three of those plus both cup games have seen Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score land so they’re a pretty open team.
Expected Goals has been given an even more prominent platform to start the season with it’s usage on Match of the Day. Now, I’m not a complete convert but it does back up my selection here, which is Forest to score Over 1.5 Goals (13/10 Coral).
In those last three Championship games, the Tricky Trees’ xG has been very consistent, reading 1.87, 1.95 and 1.97. I can’t see Forest changing tact anytime soon and having put two past Boro last time out, confidence should be high.
Leeds could easily get on the scoresheet too but I can’t be confident with them one way or the other so I’ll stick with having Forest onside here.
Nottingham Forest v Leeds – Over 1.5 Goals (13/10 Coral)