There’s nothing as dangerous as a cornered and wounded animal, and Leeds are certainly wounded after Monday. At Brighton, Leeds were left licking their wounds after their televised bruising, and as a result I expect the Whites to come out snapping and snarling against fellow Championship strugglers Bolton on Saturday.
There’s an air of unrest surrounding Elland Road and with good reason considering the way Leeds capitulated early in the first half against Brighton. This Saturday match has also been classified as a Category A game, fanning the flames of discontent. Category A of course means higher ticket prices adding weight to the ‘Time to go Massimo’ campaign and more protests are planned. Category A games are usually reserved for important or attractive fixtures against higher placed teams that we expect will bring a large quota of supporters or games for which our fans will be clambering for tickets for.
With Bolton 2nd bottom and Leeds placed 18th in the Championship, this is hardly an attractive fixture but it does place the game in the important category. The important tag takes on new meaning though in Saturday’s meeting as both teams will be desperate for the win. Leeds are only 9 points off the drop zone, with 39 points and 50 is the perceived amount to stay up. United are faced with a difficult run in with 2 away games looming at former Premier League clubs Cardiff and Blackburn. Bolton were themselves once a Premiership club but are now fighting for their Championship lives.
Bite back or face sack
The cornered Leeds Manager, Evans, has seemingly been given a mauling by Cellino and was barred from speaking to the media after Brighton. This will have been passed down the food chain and the squad will in-turn have felt the wrath of Evans. His job is on the line if he cannot motivate the wounded animal to bite back and claw out a victory.
This, of course, is the 3rd time the two sides have clashed this season and Bolton Manager Neil Lennon, who will feel his side is not yet down, should now be well versed in Evans’ shallow strategies. I predict a feisty encounter as both sides battle for valuable points with Leeds also hoping to restore some pride... a difficult task if Wood is still on the treatment table and Dallas’s mystery injury keeps him sidelined.
Leeds’s last five league games breakdown as follows: 3 draws and 2 losses. They have conceded 7 and scored a toothless 2.
Bolton has 3 losses, 1 draw and 1 win in their last five. Conceding 8, Bolton have scored 6 goals.
From 27 meetings at Elland Road, Leeds have taken maximum points on 14 occasions whilst Bolton has won 7, with 6 drawn.
Leeds United players to watch
With Byram gone Lewie Coyle seems to be the go-to man to fill in on the right side. If Dallas is still out, expect young Lewie to make an appearance. Lewie is one of the only players that performed to any standard in both of United’s recent defeats. And let's face it, he's one of the only good things to come out of Leeds this season. He hails from a sporting family and his elder brother, Tommy, is a professional boxer. Let's hope Lewie shows some of the inherent Coyle fighting spirit Saturday.
Charlie Taylor has been another academy production that has been performing consistently this season. I would like to see him get in the opposition box more, but he’s still learning and in recent games he has had to concentrate on his primary role as a defender. There’s nothing more the home crowd faithful would like to see than Taylor netting on Saturday.
Bolton players to watch
Captain Darren Pratley, a combative midfielder, has played 122 games for Bolton with 32 of those whilst in the Premiership. He scored a rare goal in the FA Cup fixture between these two sides in January. The Trotters will be hoping he’s at his best if they are to get anything from this game.
Top scorer Gary Madine is in his fourth season in the Championship having featured for Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool before Bolton. He will be hoping to add to his tally of 6 for the season.
Leeds United v Bolton Wanderers
Football League Championship
Elland Road, Leeds
Saturday, March 5th, 2016
7:00am PT / 10:00am ET / 3:00pm BT
Leeds United's probable Starting XI
Silvestri, Taylor, Cooper, Bellusci, Wootton, Bridcutt, Diagouraga, Coyle, Cook, Carayol, Doukara
Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Bamba, Dallas, Adeyemi, Murphy, Antenucci
Bolton Wanderers' probable Starting XI
Amos, Vela, Holding, Dervite, Moxey, Trotter, Feeney, Pratley, Davies, Silva, Madine
Subs: Rachubka, Spearing, Heskey, Dobbie, Osede, Woolery
2-0 Leeds, more hope than expectation.
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