Leeds United will host West Ham United at Elland Road on Saturday in the Premier League in what promises to be an exciting encounter between two highly energetic teams. Marcelo Bielsa’s squad has a subdued start to the season, but a victory over Fulham in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday is likely to boost their confidence. The Hammers, on the other hand, have knocked Manchester United out of the Carabao Cup, and David Moyes has his sights firmly set on improving his side’s fortunes in the Premier League.
Here’s our preview of the Premier League clash between Leeds United and West Ham United:
After a stunning return to the Premier League where they won the accolades of almost every critic, the Whites are in a bit of a slump in their second season after their return to the top-flight of English football. They were thrashed in their first fixture of the season by the Red Devils at Old Trafford, and could only manage draws in their encounters against Everton and Burnley. A 3-0 defeat at the hands of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and a draw against Newcastle further dampened the side’s confidence, pushing the Whites to the 17th place in the table with just three points from five games – and one point clear of the relegation zone.
Marcelo Bielsa’s high-press style of football took managers by surprise last season when the Whites stumped the big-six clubs with some elegant wins, but it looks like the clubs have learnt from their past mistakes well. Both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jurgen Klopp have managed to exploit the chinks in Leeds’ defence to score early goals, putting the Whites on the back foot right from the start. The Whites were relatively calm during the transfer window, and Bielsa would surely be regretting not shoring up the backline with new recruits.
The Whites have failed to show quality on Wednesday despite edging past Fulham to reach the fourth round of the EFL Cup. Despite dominating possession, they could not convert the advantage into goals, and the absence of Patrick Bamford was keenly felt. To add to Leeds’ woes, Raphinha will miss the fixture due to a hip injury, while Bamford remains highly doubtful. Luke Ayling is also injured while Jack Harrison is recovering from Covid. Pascal Struijk is still under suspension and Diego Llorente is already ruled out.
WEST HAM UNITED
David Moyes couldn’t have asked for a better redemption arc at the start of the season. The Hammers regathered from their 2-1 defeat to Manchester United just last weekend to send the Premier League favourites out of the Carabao Cup last night with a 1-0 win at Old Trafford. Manuel Lanzini scored just nine minutes into the game to put the Hammers ahead, a lead which they protected through the night – albeit in the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo. Solskjaer fielded a much different squad with fringe players, underestimating the resilience that David Moyes’ side have shown in making quick turnarounds.
The win also gives David Moyes a much-needed opportunity to get back to winning ways after two successive draws against Crystal Palace and Southampton. The Hammers now have just eight points from five fixtures, five points shy of the leaders Chelsea. There are almost no injury concerns for the visitors, and Michail Antonio will look to keep his title of being the season’s top goalscorer on Saturday.
Fixtures between West Ham and Leeds have become rare in the past two decades, with both sides having contrasting fortunes in different leagues this century. The Whites hold the upper hand overall – with 49 wins over the Hammers and losing just 29. But that record is mostly achieved during the glory days at Elland Road, and the Hammers humbled Marcelo Bielsa’s squad both times last season. The last time David Moyes’ side visited Elland Road, Tomas Soucek and Angelo Ogbonna scored to register a comeback victory over the Whites. The reverse fixture ended in a 2-0 thrashing for the Whites.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Despite being a talented and motivated group, the Whites have been unable to recreate the magic they displayed on the field last season so far. Marcelo Bielsa’s focus on high-press football isn’t working against equally dynamic managers, and the Whites have to quickly change their strategy if they are to survive in the Premier League. The Hammers are in top-notch form this season, and despite a loss to Manchester United last weekend, are still in contention for a top-four finish.
Leeds United have not won a fixture against West Ham since a 1-0 victory all the way back in 2000, and their prospects look grim on Saturday against the Hammers.
Leeds Predicted XI: Illan Meslier, Stuart Dallas, Liam Cooper, Luke Ayling, Robin Koch, Kalvin Phillips, Helder Costa, Jack Harrison, Rodrigo, Mateusz Klich, Patrick Bamford
West Ham Predicted XI: Alphonse Areola, Issa Diop, Craig Dawson, Ben Johnson, Ryan Fredericks, Manuel Lanzini, Mark Noble, Alex Král, Jarrod Bowen, Arthur Masuaku, Andriy Yarmolenko.
When: Saturday, 25 September 2021, 7:30 PM IST
Where: Elland Road, Leeds.
Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures are streamed live on Disney+ Hotstar. Select matches will be streamed on Star Sports and Star Sports Select channels.
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