Match: Brentford FC v Leeds United
Date: 11th February 2020
Time: 19.45 BST, 14.45 ET, 11.45 PST.
Venue: Griffin Park, Braemar Rd, Brentford, Greater London, England
TV Coverage: Sky Sports Football
Streaming: iFollow, LUTV.
Leeds United travel to London, where Marcelo Bielsa has never won, to face Brentford at Griffin Park, where Leeds haven’t won since 1950. What could go wrong?
Leeds were averaging 2.1 points per game pre-Cardiff. We’re now averaging 0.9 per game since. Lowest I’ve felt since the play-offs. Going to push the next ‘supercomputer’ who predicts Leeds finishing 1st into the sea. Only Griffin Park next, where we’re winless since 1950.— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) February 8, 2020
Thomas Frank’s Brentford have been very impressive this season despite some bouts of inconsistency, including playing quite well at Elland Road in a 1-0 win for Leeds, Eddie Nketiah getting a late winner.
Obviously Leeds’ form has been poor of late, but the biggest worry is the last game against Nottingham Forest where Leeds’ overall performance was really poor. In other games Leeds have created enough chances to win and failed to convert - against Forest they didn’t create nearly enough chances.
Brentford on the other hand have scored eight goals in the last two games, with five admittedly coming against Hull City who were terrible by every account going, and have probably the best front three in the division right now with Ollie Watkins (20 goals, three assists), flanked by Bryan Mbeumo (12 goals, five assists), and Said Benrahma (eight goals, five assists). All three of these players could well be in the Premier League next season, whether Brentford go up or not.
Brentford are apparently at full-strength - barring a late fitness test for former Leeds man Pontus Jansson. The Sweden international will be desperate to play so I expect him to get through that test.
"Griffin Park is our fortress. Under the lights and with the fans behind us it is going to be a fantastic atmosphere. We can use it a lot if we win but if we lose it, it is not the end of the world"#BRELEE | #BrentfordFC pic.twitter.com/ksH1e6KlOY— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) February 10, 2020
Brentford manager Thomas Frank certainly sounded confident (and I don’t blame him) in his press conference ahead of the match: “We definitely have more momentum than Leeds right now. Everyone knows how much I respect Marcelo Bielsa and what he has done to build up Leeds as a club and as a team but they couldn’t pick a worse place to play Tuesday night.
“I am 100 per cent sure that they fear us going into this game but that is not to say that we are just going to win it. I promise you one thing, we will be absolutely at it and ready to attack.”
To Brentford it is for our last ever game at Griffin Park. We do not have the best record there but time to put that right today. Thomas Frank has already done our team talk for us. C’mon Leeds. Let’s do this. #lufc— Leeds United Supporters Club (@LUSCExec) February 11, 2020
That is the sort of quote that looks bad if it goes wrong for Brentford, but I don’t think it is unreasonable for them to be that confident at the moment. Hopefully, it acts as extra motivation for the Leeds team - not that they should need it - knowing a Brentford win will take them above Leeds in the table.
The main positive ahead of the game is that Kalvin Phillips is back from suspension, and Leeds have really missed him. His return to the side allows Leeds to go back to their best central defensive partnership of Ben White and Liam Cooper. With Pablo Hernandez and Mateusz Klich available, we should see the end of the Stuart Dallas at CM experiment - as no-one has nailed down the left back berth I expect the Northern Ireland international to play there. Many have said that they would like Gaetano Berardi to play at left-back, to try and solve the defensive problems we have had down that side. That is a possibility following him playing 30 minutes there for the u23s against Bolton Wanderers in a 4-1 win.
Kalvin Phillips back for Leeds tomorrow night is a massive boost for the team #lufc #mot— Connor Mahoney!! BielsaBall and Beer (@ConnorMOT92) February 10, 2020
Personally, I would quite like Leeds to move Hernandez out to the right and play Klich and Jamie Shackleton in the middle as I think we could use the extra energy in midfield, but I don’t think it will happen.
The two main areas of contention between the Leeds fans and Marcelo Bielsa have surrounded the selections at each end of the pitch.
Up front many of the fans want Jean-Kevin Augustin to replace Patrick Bamford, neither showed a great deal against Forest but Augustin looked more threatening and Bamford’s confidence seems absolutely shot. I think Bamford will get the nod for tonight, but if he doesn’t improve I think he will drop out at the weekend.
Leeds have now failed to score in FIVE of our last six matches. If it’s not quite apparent yet, this needs resolving above all else. #LUFC— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) February 8, 2020
Then, there is the matter of Kiko Casilla. Just drop him, please. He has been horrendous of late. He seems to cost us a goal in every game and, much like Bamford, his confidence seems to be shot. I don’t want to be revisionist, he has been good for a lot of the season with a few mistakes dotted in there, but for the last 10 games he is statistically the worst goalkeeper in the division. Illan Meslier looks a good goalkeeper with a lot of potential, he played very well against Arsenal in the FA Cup, and Leeds have the option to sign him permanently - it is time to give the France youth international a chance.
Looking at his most recent 10, his xCG difference is -0.64 which would place him as the biggest under-performer and his save percentage is (and I had to double check this) 0.41. To summarize, he went from number one in the first 21 to being the worst in the last 10.— Aidan Reagh (@ARDataAnalysis) February 10, 2020
Marcelo Bielsa was about to drop Bailey Peacock-Farrell for Jamal Blackman last season before he broke his leg playing for the u23 side, so he is willing to change goalkeepers. As much pressure as it would put on Meslier, I think he will make the change - but I don’t say that with a strong confidence.
Illan Meslier & Jean-Kevin Augustin to start for Leeds on Saturday please #lufc #mot— Connor Mahoney!! BielsaBall and Beer (@ConnorMOT92) February 4, 2020
Brentford (4-3-3) - Raya; Dalsgaard, Jansson, Pinnock, Henry; Norgaard, Jensen, Da Silva; Mbeumo, Watkins, Benrahma.
Leeds (4-1-4-1) - Meslier; Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Hernandez, Klich, Harrison; Bamford.
I wish I had more confidence but I am going for a 3-1 defeat tonight. With the recent performance level on top of the lack of conviction we have seen in front of goal I just don’t see this going well.
What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.