Promotion six-pointer sees Leeds United host West Brom


West Brom travel to Elland Road in a critical clash against Leeds United in the race for automatic promotion, and for Leeds a chance to re-establish themselves as title contenders.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side are currently third in the Championship, two points off of leaders Norwich City, and will want to bounce back from a disappointing 1-0 away defeat to Queens Park Rangers. The away side are two points off of the Whites as boss Darren Moore tries to guide them back to the English top tier in the first time of asking.

United have suffered a setback when facing teams in the top six of the league, as while they have beaten both Swansea City and Bolton Wanderers 2-1, they have lost 1-0 to QPR, drawn with Middleborough and lost that crucial game against Norwich City.

That drop-in form from Marcelo Bielsa’s side has opened the door for other sides including, Friday’s opponents. An upturn in form until their recent 1-0 defeat to fellow automatic promotion battlers Sheffield United has seen West Brom rise to fourth, three points clear of fifth placed Middlesbrough and with a chance to close the gap on Leeds to just a point.

Last time the two met was at the Hawthorns earlier on in the season, the baggies who then hosted scored four goals all in the second half winning 4-1, though they did fail to keep a clean sheet as Pablo Hernandez scored for today’s hosts in stoppage time.

If the hosts win they will temporarily go top of the table with canaries facing relegation strugglers Millwall on Saturday before Sheffield United face city rivals Wednesday at Hillsborough on Monday.

Bielsa on whether West Brom are a challenge:

“It’s another kind of opponent. It is an opponent who will play against us. This rival has the same conditions as us. West Brom’s main skills are the quantity and quality of the offensive players.”

“It’s difficult to say if this game will be similar to the last time we played them. Hopefully we can get a better result and come out with a positive performance.”

Midfielder Jake Livermore gave his opinion on facing Leeds:

“The thing about this division is that you never know what can happen next and you always get chances to repair the damage of a result like the one against Sheffield United.”

“That certainly applies on Friday night. It’s another huge game for us.”

“Leeds are one of the clubs we need to catch and just as everyone will be questioning our home form, they will also be impressed by our away performances.”

“It may be that we get that little bit more space in those games but we will certainly go into that match confident we can get a result.”

Former Leeds United player Kyle Bartley could face his former club, the Manchester-born defender played 50 times for the Championship side scoring six goals which made him the top scoring defender during that 2016/2017 season.

United Head coach Bielsa announced after his side lost to QPR on Tuesday that he would name the exact same squad that lost in that match.

Which means Barry Douglas will continue on the bench after coming on in the 65th minute for Kalvin Philips.

As for the West Midlands club, they go into this match with a six-day break compared to Leeds who played three days before this tie. Egyptian defender Ahmed Hegazi should be fit to start despite coming off against the Blades in their last match.

Both winger Jacob Murphy and striker Hal Robson-Kanu and will face a fitness test to see if they have recovered from their injuries that saw them miss the defeat to Sheffield United.

Kemar Roofe is Leeds United’s top scoring player with 14 goals in 27 matches, he is currently out injured which will mean that the scoring will fall on the shoulders of Polish midfielder Mateusz Klich who has seven in 35.

Winger Pablo Hernández is the club and the league’s top contributor with 11 assists in 26 matches.

Englishman Jay Rodriguez is West Bromwich Albion’s leading scorer with 17 in 35, he’s closely followed by Dwight Gayle who is only one goal behind.

Former loanee Harvey Barnes is still the club’s top assister with eight in 28 but he re-joined Leicester City in January which would leave Gayle second on 7 in the same amount of games.


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