CHAMPIONSHIP fan Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) oversees Thursday night's action at Elland Road as Leeds host Barnsley, picking out his best bets.
Leeds vs Barnsley | Thursday 16th July 2020, 17:00 | Sky Sports
There’s a Yorkshire derby at Elland Road, which will have ramifications at both ends of the table. A win for Leeds will see them closer to a return to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years, while Barnsley are fighting to survive.
After losing on their return to action, Marcelo Bielsa’s side have gone unbeaten (W4, D1) and they really turned on the style in the second-half against a hapless Stoke side last week.
They have had slip-ups at Elland Road, but they generally put in a ruthless performance when one is needed. Although Bielsa will have to shuffle his pack with Kalvin Phillips likely to miss the final three games, Pablo Hernandez isn’t a bad replacement.
Barnsley are rooted to the foot of the table, but at times they’ve been unlucky not to pick up more points. Saturday’s goalless draw against Wigan was a prime example when they missed a handful of chances to claim a vital win.
Gerhard Struber has given the Tykes a slim hope of survival, but it’s only a faint hope with their final three games all against sides in the top five, starting here.
As well as failing to take chances, they’ve been pretty ordinary on the road. No side has fewer points in away games (16) this season, and lapses in concentration have been costly. Any of that here will see them punished.
The betting angles
With Leeds around 2/7 to win, you’re going to have to be creative to find a way in. There are two angles, both odds-against, which I’m willing to back.
The first is backing the hosts to be ahead by the 30-minute mark at 5/4 with William Hill. Barnsley have conceded nine goals in those opening 30 minutes in away games. And I saw some pretty wretched defending in their defeat at Stoke the other week.
Leeds will keep the ball and pull these Barnsley players all over the park, and while the Whites weren’t in front by this time against Stoke last week, they had the chances – some of which were cleared off the line.
Barnsley went 1-0 down in the 13th-minute against fellow relegation rivals Luton and were 2-0 behind at Stoke by the 30th-minute. Plus, Reading, Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday are just some of the sides that have bagged an early goal against them.
We know this Leeds side have quality, especially with magician Pablo Hernandez likely to get after Sunday’s match-winner. And they have scored plenty of early goals. They’ve scored in the first 16 minutes in three of their last six home games. So, I’m taking Leeds to start on the front foot and heap the pressure on the visitors.
The other has become quite a popular bet from what I see on social media, and that’s Leeds to win, Leeds to have most corners and Barnsley most booking points at 7/5.
It’s pretty explanatory this bet. Basically, Leeds will have too much class. The sustained pressure on their opponents’ goal usually sees them find a breakthrough. Bielsa’s side will dominate the ball – they average 60% possession; meaning if Barnsley try and press they’ll get caught out.
The Whites average 17 shots per home game and it will take something special for Barnsley to keep it tight – they’ve only kept five clean sheets on their travels. Plus, this Barnsley side aren’t one to put 10-men behind the ball, so the way they set-up should favour Leeds.
What’s more, the hosts generally rack up the corners. In 17 of 21 home games, they’ve taken the most corners, and in 13 of those they’ve taken 7+ corners, and Barnsley average five per away game.
For the cards, Barnsley will have to commit sneaky, niggly fouls to upset the rhythm of Leeds’ play. Referee Jarred Gillett is one who generally punishes those sorts of fouls, so that should see a few Tykes players in trouble.
I did look at former Leeds man Alex Mowatt at 7/2 (Betfair) for a card. He’ll want to show some fighting spirit to try and keep Barnsley in the league, but may just overstep the mark – he’s picked up eight cautions this season.
You’re getting 7/5 on the side at the top of the table to show why they are the best side in the league against the one propping it up. Bielsa won’t let his players be complacent and they’ll want to seal promotion in style, something they can do over their next couple of games.
So, these 5/4 and 7/5 pokes are worth taking in a game the hosts will show their quality and class.
Leeds v Barnsley – Leeds to be leading by 30 minutes (5/4 William Hill)
Leeds v Barnsley – Leeds to win, Leeds most corners and Barnsley most booking points (7/5 Paddy Power)