Date: 15th September 2019
Time: 12.30pm BST, 7.30am ET
Venue: Oakwell, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England
TV Coverage: Sky Sports Red Button
Streaming: iFollow, LUTV
This match is also previewed in our latest podcast, which you should definitely listen to and can be listened to here.
Leeds United travel to Oakwell knowing that a win will return them to the top of the Championship table.
Barnsley have had a few poor results following their excellent opening day win over promotion tipped Fulham FC. Barnsley have lost to Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham City and Luton Town, along with draws with Charlton Athletic and Wigan Athletic. Along with an ignominious 3-0 loss at home to League Two Carlisle United in the EFL Cup.
In terms of expected goals (xG) this match is 1st vs 24th going by the stats of the excellent Ben Mayhew (a good follow on twitter @experimental361). This is a good indicator that it is a match Leeds should win, but as we saw against Swansea City xG isn’t everything and Leeds will have to improve their chance conversion.
Barnsley’s xG against of 10.6 goals in 6 matches is one of the poorest in the league and shows that they have defensive weaknesses that Leeds should be able to exploit. This is not surprising given that Barnsley lost their best two defensive players in Liam Lindsay and Ethan Pinnock in the summer, in addition to this they will be without left-back Ben Williams who is suspended. Their xG for of 7.4 in 6 matches is ok and shows they can pose a threat, particularly as they have had a few players injured so far this season.
With one of the double-pivot in midfield being Alex Mowatt they do not have a great deal of mobility in their midfield. Having said that, as it is a team playing against Leeds there is a decent chance that their midfield will drop into 5 as Barnsley play with a low block. This will make it harder for Leeds to break Barnsley down, but will also minimise the threat from the likes of Mallik Wilks, Mamadou Thiam, or Luke Thomas on the wings. It could also leave their striker, probably the fit-again Cauley Woodrow, isolated up front against Liam Cooper and Ben White.
In terms of the Leeds squad there are no new injuries to contend with for Marcelo Bielsa and I wouldn’t expect Leeds to make any changes to their starting line-up. The only questions among the fanbase are the options of Eddie Nketiah for Patrick Bamford, and Helder Costa for Jack Harrison. Personally, I would stick with Bamford but I would bring in Costa for Harrison. There is also a chance that Wales international Tyler Roberts could return to the squad following his comeback from injury for the U23s on Monday.
Alex Mowatt is not the only ex-Leeds player who could feature for Barnsley, with summer signings Aapo Halme and Mallik Wilks already involved for the South Yorkshire side and Clarke Oduor an option for the hosts at left-back following Williams’ suspension.