Salford v Leeds | Tuesday 13th August 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Unsurprisingly, television coverage was soon selected for this EFL Cup tie as Football League new boys Salford entertain Championship promotion hopefuls Leeds at The Peninsula Stadium.
There aren’t too many guarantees in cup football, but there are likely to be a few shocks across this round given the higher league sides will rotate and utilise their squad. Marcelo Bielsa may do the same to a degree, but they don’t have a huge first-team squad at Elland Road, so maybe don’t expect mass alterations.
Bielsa has only overseen two EFL Cup ties, last season, when beating Bolton 2-1 and then losing 2-0 to Preston in the following round. He made nine changes from their previous league match on the second occasion. However, making so many changes and losing could perhaps see him pay bigger respect to Salford know he has a year of English football under his belt.
Trying to second-guess Bielsa is a challenge in itself, and I waiting until the teams are named wouldn’t be the stupidest idea.
Another cup giant-killing?
Salford won their opening EFL encounter a few weeks ago at home to Stevenage, but backed that up with an away setback to Crawley. They were thoroughly outplayed in that game, with Crawley firing an amazing 30 shots on goal across the 90-minutes. It’s unlikely they had an eye on this clash with Leeds, but it perhaps shows that their home form is likely to be key for them in this campaign.
This game is perfectly set up for a shock. The story of Salford and The Class of 92 connection will likely be utilised to death on Tuesday once again, with camera’s switching towards Neville, Scholes, Butt and co at every opportunity.
Leeds are obviously the favourites for this game considering they’re two leagues higher, regardless of the fact they’ll make changes, but will plenty of attention being on Salford, that may suit them.
In last season’s opening round of this cup, a handful of Championship clubs were knocked out. Bolton, Wigan, Sheffield United, Bristol City, Ipswich and Birmingham were dismissed, but four of those were knocked out by fellow Championship clubs.
Leeds to go strong?
Team news is always key to situations like this, but you can assume there is a good chance that someone like striker Eddie Nketiah will feature from the off for Leeds. He was left out entirely by Bielsa for Saturday’s home draw with Nottingham Forest; not wanting to throw him instantly into action.
Salford represents a good game for them to dip his toe into the water with his new club, but he does at least have good minutes in pre-season for Arsenal under his belt, so he shouldn’t be rusty. He also got three goals for the Gunners in friendly games, so he is in good form, albeit in uncompetitive matches.
Helder Costa is another who could come into the reckoning for the Whites and he is someone who Salford will have to pay particular attention to, as well. However, can this all be about Leeds?
Salford are at home after all and will need to retain some kind of threat of their own. Adam Rooney and Mani Dieseruvwe should lead the line and look to cause some problems in the final third. They’ll need to be clinical however, but a lot depends on the sort of defence Bielsa fields.
Will he want to rest Ben White and Liam Cooper for upcoming league games? Throwing in some kids could present an issue, but someone like Gaetano Berardi wouldn’t be a bad option to call upon either.
Eddie the Eagle
Personally, I’m never one to go too big in the early rounds of the cups given that rotation will be present and it can be easy to be fooled by the form of the opening two league games.
I’ll play it a little safe and just plump for Nketiah as an anytime scorer at 7/4 (Sky Bet). He really should be playing and his price will only tumble once the starting eleven is named. His movement and finishing could be the difference on the night.
Salford v Leeds – Eddie Nketiah to score at Anytime (7/4 Sky Bet)