Leeds United will look to snap a five-game winless run in the Premier League when they welcome an in-form Brentford to Elland Road on Sunday.
Two sides on opposite ends of the form table will lock horns in the Premier League at Elland Road on Sunday afternoon when relegation-battlers Leeds United play hosts to European hopefuls Brentford.
Leeds United’s form has plummeted sharply of late. And their latest 2-1 setback at Aston Villa extended their winless run to five. The Whites have not tasted victory in the top flight since the start of November, a terrible run that has left them in a precarious battle to beat the drop.
They are currently in the 14th spot, just two points above the bottom three, with the standings acting as a healthy reminder that manager Jesse Marsch has his work cut out for him if they are to assure Premier League survival.
Leeds did at least return to winning ways in their most recent encounter, a 5-2 triumph against Championship side Cardiff in their FA Cup third-round replay on Wednesday evening. Marsch will be hoping that the result will act as a springboard for further success when Brentford comes calling.
Brentford, on the other hand, have not lost a league game since October and have emerged as the surprise dark horse in the battle for a European place, having gone seven games unbeaten in the league and picking up four wins, including big scalps over Manchester City, Liverpool, and West Ham United.
Having said that, they have only won two of their nine league away games this season, although they were their last two away games, against West Ham and Manchester City.
The reverse fixture between Leeds and Brentford back in September produced a seven-goal thriller, with the Bees coming out on top with a 5-2 scoreline. Toney bagged himself a brilliant hat-trick, the first from 12 yards, the second from a wonderful free-kick, and the third from a breathtaking chip from outside the box, with Bryan Mbuemo and Yoane Wissa netting the other two goals to complete a five-goal haul.
As for Leeds, Luis Sinisterra and Marc Roca pulled two back in what was a gung-ho game throughout. Ahead of the latest meeting between two sides in Yorkshire, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
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💬 𝗝𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗻𝗲𝘄𝘀: “Archie made progress today and is getting close, Cree will probably be training next week and Georgi has looked good in training, I think he’ll be in the squad. We’re inching towards being at full capacity.” pic.twitter.com/Zw4vyLL69f
— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 20, 2023
Adam Forshaw, Crysencio Summerville, Archie Gray, and Stuart Dallas all remain out through injury this weekend. Meanwhile, Maximillian Wober and Liam Cooper have survived injury scares after undergoing late fitness tests to assess if they are able to feature in this game.
After the impressive performance in the win over Cardiff City, Jesse Marsch might be tempted to keep the same team. But the quick turnaround between games means the 49-year-old American manager is bound to make some changes.
Diminutive Italian striker Wilfried Gnonto impressed with a brace and should retain his place in attack, as should top-scorer Rodrigo Moreno and Jack Harrison, with attacking midfielder Brenden Aaronson returning to the fold from the start here.
Patrick Bamford came off the bench to score a brilliant brace in the FA Cup third-round replay. And it would have done him the world of good. Georginio Rutter, who joined Leeds from Hoffenheim for a club-record fee, might make his debut as a substitute for the Whites.
The striker has arrived to bolster Marsch’s offensive options. And while he has spent the majority of his career in the No. 9 position, he is flexible and could feature out wide.
Marc Roca is likely to partner with Tyler Adams deep down the midfield and form the formidable double pivot that has impressed vastly this season. They will shield the back four consisting of Robin Koch, Wober, Rasmus Kristensen, and Junior Firpo, with young goalkeeper Illan Meslier continuing to impress in between the sticks for the Whites.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Kristensen, Struijk, Wober, Firpo; Adams, Roca; Aaronson, Gnonto, Harrison; Rodrigo
As for Brentford, Thomas Frank has seen his treatment room shrink in recent weeks. Frank Onyeka is still sidelined due to a hamstring issue. But other long-term absentees like Pontus Jansson, Shandon Baptiste, and Aaron Hickey are all on the verge of returning from respective injuries, although this game may come too soon for them. Rico Henry could be fit for this game but will be subject to a late fitness test.
Frank has done a marvelous job with the Bees and has successfully transitioned them into a well-run Premier League side. He will go with a 4-3-3 formation here, with Kristoffer Ajer, Ethan Pinnock, Ben Mee, and Rico Henry forming the rearguard, while in-demand Spanish goalkeeper David Raya will also keep his place between the posts.
Bring on the weekend 💪 pic.twitter.com/No1ijsZ5xc
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) January 20, 2023
Henry’s availability is good news for Frank’s side down the left with his overlapping runs, crosses, cut insides, and darting far-post runs. It will also push Vitaly Janelt into a more familiar left-midfielder role.
Christian Norgaard is one of the most underrated holding midfielders in the Premier League owing to his high-volume defensive actions, and ball-playing skills. Mathias Jensen, who scored against Bournemouth, has also been in fine form and forms a perfect foil alongside Norgaard.
Ivan Toney, who scored his thirteenth Premier League goal in the recent win against Bournemouth, will spearhead the Brentford attack against Leeds alongside the usual mainstays, Bryan Mbeumo and Yoane Wissa.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Raya; Ajer, Pinnock, Mee, Henry; Jensen, Norgaard, Janelt; Mbeumo, Toney, Wissa
- Brentford have won their last three Premier League matches in a row and are unbeaten in their last four top-flight games (W4 D3). Only Newcastle United (14) and Arsenal (12) currently boast longer streaks in the division.
- Leeds United have failed to win their last five Premier League games (D2 L3).
- Leeds United are undefeated in their last six home matches against Brentford in all competitions.
- The Bees are looking to complete a league double over Leeds for only the second time in their history, having previously done it in the Championship in 2014/15.
- Only Leicester City (17) have dropped more points from winning positions in this Premier League campaign than the hosts (13).
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Toney has been in superb form for Brentford this season despite missing out on a World Cup call-up after being charged for alleged betting violations. Nevertheless, the Bees’ striker has been banging in goals for fun, having scored 13 goals in 17 Premier League games this season, surpassing his tally in 33 appearances from last season.
Only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane have scored more than the Brentford striker this season. And he comes into this game in good spirits, having scored in the 2-0 victory over Bournemouth last time out. Toney got a hat-trick in the 5-2 thumping of Leeds in September. And it would not be surprising to see him continue his fine goal-scoring exploits this season.
Leeds United 2-3 Brentford
Leeds United and Brentford have scored 14 goals between themselves in their last three Premier League meetings. So this game has the makings of another entertaining encounter with lots of goalmouth drama this weekend. But it is difficult to look past a Brentford win at the moment.
In fine form and unbeaten in their last ten, the momentum the team are riding at the moment will take some stopping. The Hard Tackle expects Brentford to carry on their good form with another win here, mounting even more pressure on Jesse Marsch and co.