Rejuvenated Leeds United move on to another big test
The big games keep coming for Leeds United as they follow up the memorable night under the Elland Road lights against West Brom with another game against promotion contenders this Saturday.
This time the Whites are on their travels as they face a Bristol City side who forced themselves into the reckoning with a run of seven straight league wins until coming up against leaders Norwich last month.
They were winning that game at half-time, but ended up losing 3-2 and have only picked up one point from two matches that have followed to dampen enthusiasm for automatic promotion as they now stand 13 points behind Leeds. But they remain very much in the running for a play-off place and will represent another big challenge for Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
To say United passed their big test against West Brom is the understatement of the year as they responded to being under probably their most pressure for a game this season with probably their best all-round display – topping even their two wins against Derby County and their 3-0 away success at Norwich.
It was all the more remarkable as it followed a tepid display that brought a 1-0 loss to a bang average QPR side three nights earlier. Bielsa chose exactly the same starting 11 and from somewhere the players found extra energy to leave many people’s favourites for promotion shellshocked.
Apart from a 10-minute spell just after half-time West Brom were simply hounded out of the contest and left West Yorkshire with their tails between their legs and dreams of a top two spot definitely fading.
As well as all the closing down Leeds suddenly found a more clinical edge in front of goal to score four times from fewer efforts on goal than they usually manage in a home game. Now the trick for United is to repeat this display against a Bristol team also keen to impress.
Unless there is a late injury it would be a big surprise if Bielsa made any changes to his team, but he could add to the bench with midfielder Adam Forshaw expected to be available again and talented teenage winger Jack Clarke back in training after his health scare.
The 18-year-old winger has missed the last four games, but has been given the all-clear from a series of medical tests after collapsing while on the bench during the second half of the match at Middlesbrough .
A virus is believed to have been the cause and Clarke has had time off before getting back into full training with the senior squad this week.
His return will be a big boost at a time when United’s attacking options on the bench have been severely limited with Kemar Roofe also sidelined and Bielsa seemingly reluctant to throw Izzy Brown in.