TOTTENHAM host Leeds on Saturday afternoon. Jack Wright (@JackWright_BSB ) is on-hand to preview the match-up.
Tottenham vs Leeds | Saturday 2nd January 2021, 12:30 | BT Sport
The Saturday lunchtime kick off sees Leeds make their first visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and hoping a change of venue sees them end a run of three successive Premier League defeats when visiting the side from North London – although there has been much time elapse since their last visit when a Mauricio Taricco strike defeated them back in 2003.
Leeds have of course returned to the Premier League a much-changed outfit under the mesmerising leadership of Marcelo Bielsa and I am sure many a neutral find themselves begrudgingly admitting their fondness for watching the men from Elland Road go about their work.
The Yorkshire side will have to overcome the disadvantage of Tottenham having had their fixture with Fulham called off on Wednesday evening and given the crazy congested nature of the fixture schedule this season those extra days rest could prove crucial.
The extra freshness could well be needed as the home side come in to this clash without a win in their last four league games, victorious in only one of the last six, scoring only five goals, where as their visitors have won three of the last four albeit the blot on that record was a 6-2 hiding at Manchester United.
This is unsurprisingly being billed as a clash of styles with potentially more focus on the battle between the two managers rather than any of the key match ups on the pitch.
We should expect Leeds to go about their business in their usual style, with high pressing, quick breaks and overloaded wings which in turn probably suits the Spurs style of a mid-block and patiently waiting for the opportunity to spring a counter – more often than not through the Son Heung-min/Harry Kane partnership – in fact we could see an even deeper line deployed by the home side.
Leeds games averaged 4.67 goals in December, with their last three road trips all seeing over 3.5 match goals with a league high average of 4.25 in their away games this campaign – scoring themselves in each one.
So, who better to turn those stats on their heads than Jose Mourinho, who would love to prove his tactical worth by getting one over on a peer lauded for his abilities, his side have only conceded one first half goal at home in the league all season and I can see his first aim is to keep the Leeds attacking threat at bay, wait for them to tire and pick up three points in a low scoring win.
The betting angles
Therefore, for my first selection I am happy to take a chance on Under 1 First-Half Goal in the Asian First-Half Goal Line market with Bet365 at odds of just over 13/8.
One of Bielsa’s players who has impressed this season is Jack Harrison – maybe one of the more unsung heroes and I was keen to play his shot on target lines cutting in from the Leeds left – however with the volatile nature of prices there I won't post that as a selection – other than to say I will personally be playing the man from Stoke-on-Trent to have at least one shot on target at odds of 12/5 with Paddy Power.
Instead, I am looking at the creative side of his game and if there is to be a way through the expected Mourinho road block it could well be from the Spurs right back position and Serge Aurier – certainly the winner of that head-to-head could have a big say in who leaves with three points.
The Ivory Coast international racked up 10 tackles in the recent unlucky defeat at Liverpool but equally is prone to an error or rush of blood to the head, he can’t switch off against 24-year-old Harrison who has made 34 key passes so far this season – third highest in the EPL behind only Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish.
PokerStars make Jack Harrison 9/2 to add to his current tally of four assists this season and I am taking that as my second selection.
Finally, as I cast my eyes over all the stats one particularly caught my attention and so much so I couldn’t write this preview without including it at best odds of 6/4. As already outlined, it would be a massive to surprise to see anything other than Leeds dominating the ball and throwing everything in to attack.
With this being the theme for virtually all of their games, home or away, Leeds have won a total of 98 corners from 16 games, with only Liverpool (104) and Aston Villa (109) winning more – Tottenham sit down in 18th with 63 flag kicks to their name – only possession-phoebes West Brom and Newcastle (both 60) have won fewer.
In that aforementioned loss at Old Trafford Bielsa’s men not only dominated the ball with 59% possession but managed to amass an impressive 13 corners – two more than their hosts. SkyBet are the firm offering 6/4 about Leeds winning more corners here – and is my bet of the match.