Leeds v West Brom: Late drama anticipated at Elland Road

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CHAMPIONSHIP specialist James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) takes a look at Friday night's fixture between promotion-chasing pair Leeds and West Brom at Elland Road.

Leeds v West Brom | Friday 1st March 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports

Third meets fourth to get the next round of Championship fixtures underway on Friday night, as Leeds welcome West Brom to Elland Road.

Darren Moore’s side will be chasing down a victory, which would move them to within one point of Leeds and apply pressure onto the likes of Sheffield United and Norwich ahead of their respective games. Both Leeds and West Brom enter this encounter on the back of 1-0 losses.

Leeds travelled to a badly out of form QPR side on Tuesday night, but fell to a slender loss. This felt like an opportunity missed for the Whites, with the picture of a deep in thought Marcelo Bielsa crouched down in the Loftus Road tunnel after the match possibly reflecting that.

It would be fair to say Leeds have gone off the boil to a degree in recent times. They’ve lost six of their last eleven, keeping just the one clean sheet in that period.

West Brom might have lost last time out to second in the table Sheffield United, but that was only their third league setback since November. They have been having some troubles playing on home soil this season, certainly in relation to a lack of consistency. They failed to win in 10 of their 17 home clashes, however, they’ve fared better on the road; possessing the best away record in the division.

Leeds missing key players

Bielsa took exception to a question from a journalist following the QPR game which doubted their fitness levels. For all that Leeds received all the plaudits earlier on in the campaign, many did wonder if they could keep that up.

Recent form suggests there may be some substance to that, but a lack of energy is not necessarily the issue. They are missing some important players at present, players which would be missed if taken out of any side.

Kemar Roofe is their top scorer, but thankfully it doesn’t look as if he will need surgery. Jack Clarke remains absent; a player who has made a huge impression of the first team scene this season. Barry Douglas at least returned as a sub at QPR in the week, and he will aid the side from a defensive and offensive perspective from left back moving forward. Gaetano Berardi also returned on the bench.

Leeds have proved that they can win without these type of players before. They can certainly turn it on in an occasion such as this, especially under the lights at Elland Road. They’ll be more than aware questions are being asked of them, so what better time for them to bounce back and open up a seven-point lead on the Baggies.

However, we can’t deny the fact that Leeds aren’t so reliable at this moment in time, and the value looks to side with Moore’s men. Given the fact West Brom have won eight of their last 10 on the road, including wins at the likes of Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Stoke and Swansea, we find it hard to ignore their price here.

However, this is a tough game, without a doubt. West Brom are likely to feel the full force of Leeds on the night. Nevertheless, we like the West Brom Draw No Bet option at 27/20 (888).

This could be tactical

This encounter brings together two of the six highest scoring teams in the Championship on Friday. The easy assumption would be to expect goals. However, it will not necessarily be like that. It is amazing how often when these sort of matches come around, that they become closer, tighter and cagier than many expect.

Of course, there is every chance this could be flooded with goals, but I get the feeling that both will look to manage the game to a degree in the first half. As mentioned, both are entering this on the back of losses, games in which they failed to score in as well.

With this undoubtedly being a big game, both will be especially keen not to concede the first goal. After all, both teams have been unbeaten in the league when netting first.

It is proven by the stats that both of these teams tend to score most of their goals after the second half restart. Leeds have scored 69% in the second half of matches, whilst for West Brom it is slightly lower, but still very high, at 63%. They’ve also conceded more in the second 45 as well, 55% and 58% respectively.

Those numbers may count for nothing on the night, but as I said these top of the table games, especially at this stage of the season, can normally become intriguing battles.

0-0 Half Time Score at 43/20 (Marathon) is the way we are going to go. Another reason being is that the most popular half time Leeds home score and most popular half time West Brom away score this season has been, you guessed it, 0-0. Therefore, we can get a decent price on a repeat showing.

A late show more than possible

As is the case in almost every Championship game, the second half is more likely to see both teams really go for this. Both have sights on chasing down the top two in the division, and whilst a draw on the night won’t necessarily be a disaster, three points could be priceless in their respective seasons.

In the section above we touched upon the fact that both teams tend to score and concede more in the second half, they certainly won’t be the only Championship teams who we can say that about. However, there is a nice little market we can get involved in.

Both teams tend to score plenty of late goals. Leeds have scored 38 of their 55 goals in the second half, with 16 of those coming between the 76th minute and full time. This is the one segment in a game where they have scored more than any other. We can also say the same about the team for the Hawthorns as well, and it is slightly better than their opponents, scoring a cool 20 times in the last minutes of game.

It can therefore be understood why Bielsa took exception to a journalist question following the QPR defeat which doubted their energy levels. They, and West Brom, will fight until the very end of this contest.

Quotes of 11/10 (Betway) on Time of Last Goal 76-Full Time therefore cannot be ignore on this occasion. It is likely to be a case of being more end to end in the second half than one team sitting back and protecting a point. Even if a team is leading heading into this period, the losing side will throw the kitchen sink at this and pressure normally tells, based on the numbers.

Best Bets

Leeds v West Brom – West Brom draw no bet (27/20 888)

Leeds v West Brom – 0-0 Half Time Score (43/20 Marathon)

Leeds v West Brom – Time of Last Goal 76-Full Time (11/10 Betway)

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