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Leeds v Burnley: The first of two absolutely crucial matches to end 2020.

Man Utd away is important, but this season games like this are probably more important.

Leeds United v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Tim Keeton - Pool/Getty Images

Match: Leeds United v Burnley

Date: 27th December 2020

Time: 12.00 GMT 07.00 ET, 05.00 PST.

Venue: Elland Road, Beeston, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England


We all put the trip to Old Trafford on something of a pedestal. A real rivalry that has returned after 16 years of us being away from where we should have been - and it went totally wrong and we took a bit of a hammering. However, if you take the emotion out of it as a newly promoted team, Burnley at home is probably a more important fixture.

Burnley will play 4-4-2, as they do. One of the two strikers, probably Ashley Barnes, may drop on to Kalvin Phillips to make it a 4-4-1-1 if Marcelo Bielsa doesn’t pick a back three (probably Ayling, Llorente, Struijk) to combat the system outright - for what it is worth I think Leeds will go straight into a 3-3-1-3 regardless of who is picked.

Burnley v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Nick Pope is a very good goalkeeper and is many people’s choice for England’s number one.
Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Burnley have a very strong centre-back pairing along with a very good goalkeeper in Nick Pope - meaning Leeds cannot afford to be wasteful if they do create clear openings. Leeds will have a lot of the ball in this game but it will not be easy to create good chances. Ben Mee and James Tarkowski will make things very difficult for Patrick Bamford, but when Bamford does drop off the front he will likely get more space than he would against other sides. As Burnley sit in a low block, no-one will come out with him, the interesting thing will be very Leeds can make the most of this space and find a way in behind.

Burnley’s midfield two of Josh Brownhill and Ashley Westwood are both good on the ball, although not likely to make breaks in the way that Scott McTominay did to such devastating effect last time out. In order to help Kalvin Phillips (or Mateusz Klich of Phillips is a de facto third centre-back) expect to see Stuart Dallas tuck inside from right wing-back, as well as the possibility of Ezgjan Alioski doing so from the other side at some points in the game.

Chelsea v Leeds United - Premier League
Diego Llorente’s return will be well timed if he makes Bielsa’s team, following the injuries to Robin Koch and Liam Cooper.
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

As I expect Leeds to play 3-3-1-3, in order to get Pascal Struijk and Diego Llorente in a back three with Luke Ayling, someone has to drop out. Based on their current form, either Rodrigo or Mateusz Klich would be fair to drop, but I expect Spain international Rodrigo to be the one on the bench for this game. Otherwise, I think the lineup will be unchanged.

One of the main dangers requires no explanation. Burnley are great at set-pieces, we are terrible at them. I think Leeds will need to score twice as a minimum because I cannot see Burnley not getting one set piece goal in this game.


Say this a lot - Leeds will have most of the ball. However, that will suit Sean Dyche just fine. Burnley will defend deep and make it hard for Leeds to create clear cut chances, but will probably allow Leeds to have shots from distance.

Burnley will counter attack quickly and directly with balls up to Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes, Leeds will struggle to win these so their ability to win the second ball will be very important. Leeds must avoid giving away needless set-pieces to reduce opportunities created like that.

It will be interesting to see who Burnley pick out wide, given that Dwight McNeil and Robbie Brady are both injury doubts - but as Sean Dyche said he was hopeful they would be fit, I am going to assume they will be.

PREDICTED LINE-UPS

Leeds (3-3-1-3): Meslier; Ayling, Llorente, Struijk; Dallas, Phillips, Alioski; Klich; Raphinha, Bamford, Harrison.

Burnley (4-4-2): Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Brady, Westwood, Brownhill, McNeil; Wood, Barnes.

Prediction: Leeds 2-1 Burnley. May just be the optimism of a nice Christmas dinner, but I think we will bounce back well from the last game and win this one.

What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.