One win in ten is not a great way to prepare for any match, never mind a match against the team top of the table. Neil Redfearn's men face a daunting task on Saturday when Derby County are the visitors to Elland Road, lets anaylse the statistics see where the game could be won and lost.
One thing that looks certain is that there will be goals in this game. Leeds, for all their struggles, have only failed to find the net on 4 occasions this term, while Derby have done better only shooting a blank twice. Derby's defence is tricky to figure out. Despite keeping 8 clean sheets they have allowed Brentford, Wigan and Huddersfield each to score 2 goals against them in 3 of the last 5 games. The latter 2 teams being less than prolific goal scorers should give Antenucci and Doukara hope that County's defence is far from the finished article.
This game will be won and lost in the centre of the park. Both teams enjoy keeping possession and we should see some good passing on show from 2 of the most accurate teams in the league. Derby have successfully completed 81.7% of their passes which is the best in the league, Leeds aren't far off in 6th finding a team mate 78% of the time. Expect the Rams to edge possession with Craig Bryson and Will Hughes in the middle of the park. Both feature in the top 10 most accurate passers of the season and only Wolves have a higher average amount of possession.
Pressure on Keogh
While the Derby midfield enjoy keeping possession a key element to getting something from the game could be to put constant pressure on centre back Richard Keogh. The Republic of Ireland international is the league's most accurate passer with a remarkable 90.9% of his passes going to a colleague, no other central defender features in the top 30 for pass accuracy. This illustrates that Derby prefer to build from the back and play through teams, this could work in favour of Leeds if Redfearn is able to coax an organised performance from a defence that has looked anything but disciplined. Designating a deep lying forward to hassle Keogh and help pressure the midfield high up the pitch, especially the impressive Hughes, could stifle County and hopefully result in a frustrating afternoon for the visitors.
Typically in these "backs to the wall" matches a simple game plan would be to sit back, try and soak up pressure and score a goal from a set piece. Here we have some bad news and some good news. Good news first; unlike his well-drilled teams of years passed (not including his hapless England team), Steve McLaren's side are one of the least effective when it comes to defending set pieces. Of the 17 goals they have conceded this term, 7 of them have been from set pieces. The bad news? No team has scored less from set pieces that Leeds.
One thing that should be kept in mind is the statistics regarding the timing of both teams' goals this season. Leeds have conceded 8 goals in the last 15 minutes of matches, only Fulham have a worse record. Alternatively, Derby have scored an impressive 12 after the 75 minute mark. Should the match be in the balance come the end of the second half, be warned that it could be more late heartbreak this week.
Unsurprisingly, when compared to the league leaders, it looks to be an uphill struggle from the first minute. However, Leeds fans should take heart from the topsy turvy nature of the Championship, Derby look to be the best team in the competition this year with an experienced manager and a side that narrowly missed out on promotion last year but they are by no means unbeatable. Leeds are nothing if not unpredictable and go in to the game with nothing to lose.