Leeds United will make a trip to London for their final battle in the Premier League this season on Sunday. The Whites face the threat of relegation to the Championship if things do not go their way on Sunday, with Burnley just a point behind and with a game in hand. Brentford will be looking to finish their season in the top half of the table by claiming all three points, and are not expected to make the job any easier for the Whites.
Here’s our preview of Sunday’s Premier League fixture between Leeds United and Brentford:
A late 92nd-minute header from Pascal Struijk helped Leeds United salvage a draw against Brighton & Hove Albion last Sunday, keeping their hopes of staying in the Premier League alive. After making a resounding impact since their entry to the Premier League last season, the Whites have lost their way this year, partly owing to a spate of injuries and absences among the squad. The January transfer window ended with no major signings, and Marcelo Bielsa’s exit has partly reduced the confidence at Elland Road.
The Whites have won just eight fixtures this season, with their last win coming against Watford in April. Conceding goals has been the primary cause of Leeds United’s downfall this season – their tally of 78 goals conceded is the second-worst in the Premier League. Despite the weaknesses at the back, the trio of Raphinha, Jack Harrison and Rodrigo have kept the Whites alive in the league with their consistent goals. But even those goals have dried up in recent weeks, with Jesse Marsch’s side managing to score just two goals in their last five games.
Leeds United will be without six main players for their final game of the season, with Daniel James and Luke Ayling suspended for the fixture. Tyler Roberts, Adam Forshaw, Stuart Dallas and Crysencio Summerville are all out due to injuries. The return of Patrick Bamford could be a boost to the Whites, however, and he is expected to join Rodrigo in providing leadership for the young squad.
WHAT LEEDS NEED TO AVOID RELEGATION
Leeds United’s fate is no longer solely in their hands as both Everton and Burnley have games in hand. Both clubs will be in action on Thursday, with Everton hosting Crystal Palace and Burnley taking on Aston Villa. Everton need just three points to survive in the league, and they need to win against Crystal Palace as their final game is against Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. Burnley have a tougher job, needing four points from two games. Jesse Marsch will be counting on Burnley’s poor form and the relative strength of Aston Villa and Newcastle United to see them through.
For the Whites to survive in the league, they must bag all three points on Sunday and hope for the best.
Brentford might not have grabbed all the headlines like Leeds United did last season, but since their promotion to the Premier League, they certainly have shown their intent on the field. With 13 wins and 7 draws from 37 games, Brentford now sit above established clubs like Aston Villa and Crystal Palace in the 11th spot. The Bees have claimed 10 points from their last five games, with victories over Watford, Southampton and Everton. But Thomas Frank’s men put their best foot forward in their game against Tottenham Hotspur last month, where they held the Spurs to a goalless draw.
Ivan Toney and Yoane Wissa have been the goal-scoring machines for the Bees this season. Christian Eriksen’s arrival in January lifted the club’s profile, and the attacking midfielder has been critical in the Bees’ recent victories. Thomas Frank is unlikely to make any major changes in his starting XI for their final game of the season, sticking to his tried and tested 4-3-3 lineup.
HEAD TO HEAD
Leeds United and Brentford are familiar with each other’s tactics owing to their meetings in the Championship during the last decade. Both sides have met on 41 occasions, with the Whites coming out victorious on 14 occasions. Brentford have won 12 games, while 15 fixtures ended in a draw. But Brentford have dominated in recent years, winning five of the 12 encounters against Leeds United in the Championship.
Three of the last five encounters between the clubs ended in a draw, including the reverse fixture in December. Patrick Bamford’s stoppage-time equaliser gave Leeds United a 2-2 draw against the Bees at Elland Road, with Shandon Baptiste and Sergi Canos scoring for the visitors.
WHAT TO EXPECT
It is a nervous weekend for fans at Elland Road, with optimism and pride giving way to despair and frustration. With several exits likely during the transfer window, Leeds United need to stay in the Premier League to attract talent and fix the gaps that have cost the team many games this season. The Whites are still capable of making one final stand, but it would require them to put their best foot forward.
Expect Leeds United to come out of the game with three points.
Leeds United Predicted XI: Illan Meslier, Robin Koch, Diego Llorente, Liam Cooper, Junior Firpo, Matsuez Klich, Kalvin Phillips, Raphinha, Rodrigo, Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford.
Brentford Predicted XI: David Raya, Rico Henry, Mads Bech Sorenson, Pontus Jansson, Kristoffer Ajer, Christian Eriksen, Christian Norgaard, Mathias Jensen, Ivan Toney, Bryan Mbeumo, Yoane Wissa.
When: Sunday, 22nd May, 8:30 PM IST
Where: Brentford Community Stadium, Brentford.
Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures will be featured on Disney+ Hotstar. Select matches will be telecasted live on Star Sports and Star Sports Select Channels.
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