Match: Leeds United v Queens Park Rangers
Date: 2nd November 2019
Time: 15.00 GMT, 11.00 ET, 08.00 PST.
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
Streaming: iFollow, LUTV (outside the UK).
This match is also previewed in the latest Mighty Whites Podcast, which you should definitely listen to and can be listened to here.
Leeds United welcome QPR to Elland Road on Saturday afternoon needing a win after two consecutive draws away at Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday.
Away draws are not to be sniffed at in this division, particularly when the opposition are riding high in the table, but winning your home games is vital to any promotion push.
Marcelo Bielsa could be forced into a few changes (the only way he really makes changes) following the news that Patrick Bamford, Ezgjan Alioski and Barry Douglas are all struggling with injuries. None of these three were rules out by Bielsa but he doesn’t often risk players who aren’t 100% fit.
Injury latest from Bielsa - Pablo Hernandez is available but Patrick Bamford has an ankle problem. Alioski (side) and Douglas (knee) are doubts as well. Forshaw is still out. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) October 31, 2019
The most pressing result of this for Leeds fans is that this could finally be a chance for Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah to get a start in the league. Fans have been calling for this for a while as there is little doubt that Nketiah is a much stronger finisher than Bamford, particularly with Bamford’s recent profligacy in front of goal.
Nketiah could well be in for a few chances with the return to fitness of former Spain international Pablo Hernandez, whom Leeds have undoubtedly missed during his injury absence. This means Helder Costa will probably drop to the bench.
This is Eddie Nketiah's shot map for #lufc in all competitions so far. A ridiculous 44.44% from 6 yards or closer. That miss from practically on the line was the one which he barely made contact with late on in the Stoke EFL Cup game, by the way. pic.twitter.com/fug2yEERQn— Josh Hobbs (@JoshAHobbs) October 30, 2019
However, Leeds do lose something if Bamford isn’t fit. His ability to drop off the front and link-up the pay has been regularly praised by Bielsa, as has his work rate pressing and chasing back. Nketiah seemed to take these words to heart at Hillsborough last time out as his defensive work-rate seemed to be a lot higher than on previous outings.
Injuries to left-backs Alioski and Douglas leave something of a selection dilemma for Leeds, but whichever Bielsa decides to go one of Leeds younger players will get a chance to start.
Leeds could bring in Leif Davis at left-back as a direct replacement - the former Morecambe man has played seven first team games for the Whites and hasn’t let the side down.
I wonder who will play left-back for Leeds on Saturday with both Alioski & Douglas a doubt, believe that young Leif Davis can do the job #lufc #mot— Ryan (@LeedsUtdRyan) October 31, 2019
Bielsa could go with a more experienced head and play Stuart Dallas at left-back, with Luke Ayling at right-back. This would leave a spot open in midfield as one of the two number 8s, which Dallas has been occupying (when Leeds play 4-1-4-1). Leeds could either go with Jamie Shackleton or Tyler Roberts in this role, depending on which of the two number 8 roles Mateusz Klich is used in.
He could also play Gaetano Berardi as a left-back, although I see that as the least likely option as he offers very little going forward.
Personally, I think Shackleton would get the nod. QPR have switched between one and two up front this season and playing Shackleton gives Leeds the option to move him to right-wing-back and play with three centre-backs should The Rs go with a two-striker formation.
Need Shackleton back in the first team as quickly as possible. Definitely an energetic spark missing in midfield at the moment. #lufc https://t.co/QliIxLEhtr— Thomas Bradley (@TBradley23) October 28, 2019
QPR do have a strong forward line this season with Nahki Wells and Jordan Hugill up top. They have good options off the striker too - Ilias Chair looks dangerous following his confidence boosting loan at Stevenage last season.
They also have one of the stand out players of the season playing off the front in Eberechi Eze who has six goals and four assists already this season. Some of his play has been borderline impossible to play against and Tottenham Hotspur are being linked with the England u20 international.
Most dribbles completed so far this season:— Championship Stats (@Champstat) October 27, 2019
Eberechi Eze 37
Ovie Ejaria 37
Said Benrahma 34
Grady Diangana 31
Adama Diakhaby 31
Jarrod Bowen 29
Kadeem Harris 28
Antonee Robinson 27
Jack Harrison 26
Ivan Cavaleiro 26
Bersant Celina 24
Joe Lolley 23
Andre Ayew 23
QPR’s squad doesn’t look as strong in deeper midfield areas or defence and they can be got at, as Brentford FC showed in their 3-1 win at Loftus Road on Monday night.
Despite that result, with how close the Championship is, and the good work Mark Warburton has done since getting the job since getting the job in the summer, QPR would leapfrog Leeds with a win at Elland Road.
Leeds: Casilla; Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips, Shackleton, Klich, Hernandez, Harrison; Nketiah.
QPR: Kelly; Rangel, Leistner, Barbet, Manning; Chair, Cameron, Scowen, Eze; Hugill, Wells
Leeds need a win and should have their creative spark back with the return of Pablo Hernandez, even if he doesn’t play 90 minutes. I am going to go for a 2-0 win despite Leeds struggling for goals recently.
What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.