After shocking title contenders Leicester City with a classic Bielsa ball performance on Sunday, Leeds United head back home to face Everton at Elland Road in the Premier League. The hosts will look forward to making it a League double against Everton after beating them 1-0 at the Goodison Park in November.
Here’s our preview of Wednesday’s fixture between Leeds United and Everton:
After three consecutive defeats to start the year, Marcelo Bielsa’s men have found their rhythm in the last two matches, putting on a stunning display of attacking football. The Peacocks stunned Leicester City with a 3-1 victory over the weekend, where the full potential of the famed Bielsa ball was on display. The victory against a title contender would rewrite the narrative inside Leeds’ dressing room, who would now look forward to earning a spot in the Champions League instead of looking back at the Relegation Zone.
Leeds injury woes continue, as all of their four summer signings have succumbed to injuries. Diego Llorente already is out of the team for another three to four weeks. The match against Leicester was the fresh catalyst for injuries, with Rodrigo, Raphinha and Patrick Bamford all suffering on the field. Bielsa has allayed any fears that Raphinha and Bamford will miss the fixture against Everton, but Helder Costa is on stand by if the need arises. Rodrigo’s situation looks more uncertain, and Mateusz Klich is likely to return to the side as a replacement.
Everton are eighth in the Premier League table, being plagued with inconsistency after a strong start to the season. The Toffees have suffered a shocking 2-0 defeat against Newcastle United, a team that Bielsa’s men defeated comfortably just three days before. Prior to that defeat, however, Carlo Ancelotti’s men had a four-match unbeaten streak, and their form away from home has been extraordinary. A victory against Leeds would mean a shot at the Champions League for Everton, something that they hoped for at the start of the season.
Allan, Niels Nkounkou, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, and Fabian Delph are currently injured and will be unavailable for this game.
HEAD TO HEAD
Leeds and Everton have played 117 matches against each other, with fairly even results – Everton won 33 and Leeds won 32 fixtures. Everton and Leeds have faced each other 24 times in the Premier League over the years and both the teams have won seven matches each. The Toffees have won just three of their 49 visits to Elland road, giving confidence to an in-form Leeds squad. Both teams met just three times in the last decade, and all of them ended with wins for The Whites. Leeds won their last encounter at the Goodison Park with a narrow 1-0 margin in November 2020. Marcelo Bielsa will also be looking for his first League Double against Carlo Ancelotti, only three managers have managed to achieve it before.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Everton might be sitting above Leeds heading into the game, but it will be the hosts who will enter the game as favourites. Attacking line-ups on both sides are sure to produce a goal-laden match. Two back-to-back victories within the week will boost Leeds’ confidence, and they would look to prove that it isn’t just luck that underlies their approach.
The match against Leicester was a reminder to Bielsa’s men that they possess an outstanding attacking strength when they find their rhythm, and they should look for a spot at the top of the table rather than being afraid of the bottom any longer.
Leeds United Predicted XI (4-1-4-1): Illan Meslier; Ezgjan Alioski, Liam Cooper, Pascal Struijk, Luke Ayling; Kalvin Phillips; Stuart Dallas, Mateusz Klich, Helder Costa, Jack Harrison; Patrick Bamford
Everton Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Jordan Pickford; Ben Godfrey, Michael Keane, Yerry Mina, Mason Holgate; Andre Gomes, Abdoulaye Doucoure; Lucas Digne, James Rodriguez, Richarlison; Dominic Calvert-Lewin
When: Thursday, 4 February 2021, 1:00 AM 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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