Tottenham Hotspur will be travelling to Elland Road on Saturday to face Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United in the Premier League. With their hopes of securing a Champions League spot on the line, the fixture is crucial for Spurs after a disastrous season which saw the exit of manager Jose Mourinho in recent weeks. The Whites on the other hand will be keen to return to the top half of the table once again after succumbing to a surprise defeat at the hands of Brighton and Hove Albion last week.
Here’s our preview of Saturday’s fixture between Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur:
Tottenham Hotspur remain in contention for a Champions League berth as they currently sit sixth in the table, just two points behind West Ham and five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea. But the window of opportunity is closing fast for the Lilywhites, and they need to be at the top of their form to keep their aspirations alive.
After the exit of Jose Mourinho, Tottenham have adopted a more attacking approach to the game, something that was lacking under Mourinho and led to his unceremonious exit. The Lilywhites have seen back-to-back victories in the Premier League under Ryan Mason, who took charge of the club as interim manager as the club looks for a permanent manager. Tottenham came from behind to beat Southampton 2-1 before crushing Sheffield United 4-0 last week, but a 1-0 loss to Manchester City in the EFL Cup final exposed the chinks in their armour.
Leading Tottenham’s resurgence is Gareth Bale, who has featured in the last two Premier League games for Spurs after being sidelined for most of the season under Mourinho. His hat-trick in the game against Sheffield United all but secures his place in the team for the remainder of the season. Ben Davies is the only injury concern for the Spurs, and Ryan Mason has the rest of the squad available to deploy at Elland Road.
This has been a phenomenal first season in the Premier League for the Whites, and with the team’s place secure in the Premier League, the focus has shifted to the transfer window. But Leeds cannot afford to be complacent, as their 2-0 loss last week to Brighton showed. Marcelo Bielsa’s side entered the game on the South Coast with a six-game unbeaten run that featured a victory over Manchester City and draws against Liverpool and Manchester United. The loss to Brighton thus came as a surprise, despite the absence of key players.
With just four games remaining this season, Bielsa will be keen to take his team back into the top half of the table with another impressive performance against a ‘big six’ side. The biggest absence for Leeds was Kalvin Phillips in the midfield, who is crucial to the team’s attacking style of play. The Whites have won just two games without him this season, and Bielsa will be eagerly waiting for the midfielder’s recovery in time for Saturday’s game.
Patrick Bamford, Leeds’ main striker, looked out of touch last week as he managed just 15 touches of the ball before being replaced in the second half. It is likely a one-time occurrence, and he should be back in his form against Tottenham. Raphinha’s absence was keenly felt against Brighton with a lacklustre Bamford unable to attack the post, and his return will be crucial for producing a goal-fest that is typical of Leeds. Helder Costa and Adam Forshaw are out of the game with injuries, but captain Liam Cooper will return to the game after serving a three-match suspension.
HEAD TO HEAD
Tottenham have won four of their last six encounters with Leeds, with Leeds managing a sole 2-1 victory in the FA Cup back in 2003. Both Leeds and Tottenham are known for their attacking style of play, and they have scored in five of the pair’s last ten fixtures across competitions. The reverse fixture between both the teams in January resulted in a 3-0 victory for Tottenham with Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and Toby Alderweireld scoring for the Lilywhites.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Tottenham enter the fixture at Elland Road as favourites – the attacking style they have readopted after the exit of Mourinho seems to be working in their favour for now. But the Whites have repeatedly surprised many teams this season, and after their recent exploits against the big six clubs, they will be eager to have another scalp in their bag.
Expect an action-packed 90 minutes with lots of goals.
Tottenham Predicted XI: Lloris, Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon, Ndombele, Hojbjerg, Bale, Lucas, Son; Kane.
Leeds Predicted XI: Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Koch, Alioski, Phillips; Costa, Dallas, Roberts, Harrison, Bamford.
When: Saturday, 8 May 2021, 5:00 PM IST
Where: Elland Road, Leeds
Where to Watch: All Premier League fixtures are streamed live on Disney+ H
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