Date: 7th November 2020
Time: 15.00 BST, 10.00 ET, 08.00 PST.
Venue: Selhurst Park, Selhurst, London, England
Streaming/TV coverage: BT Sport Box Office (don’t buy it).
Leeds United face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in a game that I am finding it hard to set my expectations for.
Most neutrals I see are expecting Leeds to get the better of this one, but Palace’s strength is sitting deep and being organized, before breaking quickly with pace mostly through a key player, this time Wilfried Zaha, sound familiar?
Zaha in one-on-one battles is a problem for any defender, Leeds man-mark all over the pitch so that could suit him, although if he plays as part of a front two, Leeds spare centre-back Robin Koch may be able to help with that battle.
Leeds and Crystal Palace have put up similar “xG against” numbers but Leeds certainly have the advantage when it comes to the attacking side of the game. This is something Leeds must press home and take the chances they create - we have seen with the matches against Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers what happens if you let a defensively solid side take a lead and/or fail to take your chances against them.
This match will have a lot of similarities to those two home defeats. Leeds will have the majority of the ball and Palace will be fine with that. I expect the difference in possession figures to be even more stark in this game as Crystal Palace do not have as much quality as either the Foxes or Wolves, but this does not mean they aren’t a dangerous opposition for us.
Possession : Palace 29% -71% leeds— Roy Matthews (@Rmatthews8993) November 6, 2020
Shots :palace 1-17 Leeds
Final score Palace 1-0 Leeds
There is also a factor that shouldn’t matter - but really does. Leeds hate playing in London. Leeds haven’t won in London since a 3-1 win over QPR in December 2017 when Kemar Roofe scored a hat-trick and it’s not like we’ve only played there twice. Maybe that shouldn’t worry me and I am being superstitious, but it does worry me.
Leeds will still be without Rodrigo, who was badly missed against Leicester City and it remains to be seen what Marcelo Bielsa decides to do with the midfield. Against Leicester Mateusz Klich played deep with Jamie Shackleton and Pablo Hernandez ahead of him, and it did not work. Most fans expected Pascal Struijk to play in the KP role for that match, and I expect him to come back in for this match - not least because Palace are likely to play a lineup which can switch between 4-3-3 and 4-4-2, meaning Leeds could need to switch in and out of a back three, Struijk’s ability to play both DM and CB help with that, although in a back three Struijk may stay in midfield with Ayling joining the centre-backs.
This means that one of Hernandez and Shackleton is likely to drop out, and I am thinking it will be Shackleton who drops out, despite Hernandez’s effectiveness from the bench, allowing Klich to return to his strongest role in the side. Elsewhere, expect no changes from Leeds if there is no late injury news.
Palace are missing James Tomkins and Joel Ward from their defence, and Gary Cahill is still a doubt. Cheikhou Kouyate will retain his place in defence having shown some impressive form in his new role. Luka Milivojevic is suspended although he may not have been in the side anyway having received a fair amount of criticism for his recent form.
Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Guaita; Clyne, Kouyate, Dann, Van Aanholt; McArthur, Riedewald, Schlupp; Townsend, Batshuayi, Zaha
This could easily become 4-4-2, if it does Leeds will switch to 3-3-1-3.
Leeds (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Dallas; Struijk; Costa. Hernandez, Klich, Harrison; Bamford.
Despite my reservations listed above, by the time I have finished writing this I feel like we’ll win 1-0 - I almost can’t justify it.
Crystal Palace 0 - 1 Leeds United (Bamford)
What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.