Leeds United will be looking to put in a better performance on Saturday as they welcome QPR to Elland Road. The Whites have shown unbelievable resiliency over the last few weeks, but they have definitely ridden their luck at times and need to start to gain momentum as they prepare to strengthen their grip within the play off places.
The announcement that Chris Wood and Luke Ayling were to miss the Fulham game nearly sent the Leeds faithful into meltdown on Tuesday. I would expect both men to be back in the XI tomorrow. Also, I would anticipate that Pablo Hernandez will return to the XI as will Ronaldo Vieira after Kalvin Phillips was sent off on Tuesday.
A victory for the Whites is reliant on three main factors:
1. Exploiting the space
QPR like to attack with a lot of width, and this leaves space in the wide areas for Leeds when QPR lose the ball. If Leeds can exploit the space left by the wingers and get the ball into the box, we should have some joy in front of goal.
2. Utilising set pieces
Set pieces will play a vital role in the game. If Leeds can get the corners & free kicks in and around the penalty box, the lads should be able to create some decent chances. QPR struggle to cope with set pieces and with the height and quality we have in terms of heading ability, this is something we must take advantage of on Saturday.
3. Win the battle in midfield
As we saw on Tuesday, the main difference between a victory and a loss comes down to small margins in the Championship and, for me, the central midfield battle on Saturday will decide the result. Leeds have struggled to control the midfield in recent weeks, but if Bridcutt and O’Kane/Vieira can take control early on, Leeds should be able to dictate and govern the game. We don’t score a huge amount of goals so it’s imperative that we don’t allow QPR to settle.
What we know about QPR
Ian Holloway sets his teams in a similar way to Garry Monk in the 4-2-3-1 formation. However, they seem to have a more direct approach and often like to play the ball forward in the air. Ex-Leeds striker Matt Smith was brought in in January and his aerial ability could cause problems for Bartsson if they are not fully focused. The game will be a full blooded affair as QPR has an aggressive side, and I would expect a few cards. (But hopefully not Bartley, Jansson or Ayling, as they sit dangerously close to suspensions.)
Leeds met QPR on a dismal opening day of the season as we lost 3-0 and were absolutely awful. Our record in recent years against QPR isn’t much better as we’ve only won 3 out the last 10 games, drawing 4 and losing 3. We haven’t beaten them since May 2011.
Leeds United’s form looks pretty good on paper: 11 points out of a possible 15 isn’t bad considering the level of performance in these games. Still, Leeds will be hoping to show the form we saw in late 2016. Leeds United: W-D-W-W-D
QPR have had a decent few weeks too: they completed back-to-back wins for the first time since the beginning of January this week. With good wins against Cardiff and Barnsley and with a recent away 4-1 drubbing of Birmingham, they seem to getting back on track at the wrong time for Leeds. QPR: L-W-L-W-W
Leeds United vs. Queens Park Rangers
EFL Championship fixture
LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds, International Listings
Saturday, March 11th, 2017
7:00am PT / 10:00am ET / 3:00pm BT
Leeds United’s predicted starting XI
Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor, Bridcutt, Vieira, Sacko, Hernandez, Dallas, Wood
QPR’s predicted starting XI
Smithies, Onuoha, Hall, Lynch, Perch, Morrison, Goss, Bidwell, Mackie, Washington, Smith
2-0 Leeds. The home form over the last few months has played a pivotal role in cementing our position in the playoffs. I believe Saturday will be no different as the organisation and determination that the lads have shown at Elland Road this season will be enough to stifle QPR’s recent upturn in form and we will win the game 2-0. Bartley and Jansson with the goals. That’s right. MOT.