So many tight games on the cards today, but this one appears to have an angle to it. Southampton have some positive momentum, and I think they can mount further pressure on a fearful Leeds team.
Leeds have scored in one game of their last five, twice against Manchester United. Looking at their xG it is not much better with 0.37 against Brentford, 1.12 against Forest, 0.6 against Everton and 0.55 and 1.68 against Man United. Reviewing the scoring highlights of those games also shows that they haven’t had that many good opportunities.
With the new manager Javi Gracia now appointed and will be in charge, there is a feeling that he is trying to prepare as much as possible but so much will be rushed in this game. He says that his team will be perfectly prepared but I can’t see how this will be the case. There has been talk that he has watched the Chelsea Southampton match and knows Southampton’s weaknesses. I find this a bit of a reach.
Ruben Selles is the new Southampon manager, who had his first game against Chelsea, winning 1-0, in a 4-4-2 system. He used six subs during the game showing me that he is a flexible manager. I doubt that he will go with the same system again, it is a very different match to the Chelsea game in many ways.
It is also well known that Gracia is going to target their weaknesses, probably on the wings, but it is another thing to put a plan in place to be successful with this. Selles have been at the club since pre-season and is well respected by the players. Gracia has only arrived this week and likely hasn’t had a training session with his players.
I would like to see Leeds play 4-3-3 as I think they can play better but as there is not much time he will likely play 4-2-3-1 and use width to get in behind Southampton’s back line, particularly Maitland-Niles as he was getting forward on the right side from right back.
Southampton have two new signings upfront who are also unknown quantities. Onuachu (16 goals in 19 games for Genk this season) is 6 feet 7 inches, so it is clear that there will be crosses into him from both sides. Leeds will need to stop these crosses, as they do not have nearly as much height at center back or successful aerial duels. Koch and Cooper have a 64% win rate in the air this season.
Leeds are weak at both full backs this season althought Ayling have been playing fantastic since Jesse Marsch has been sacked, Firpo at left back has traditionally been a liability but has also shown an improvement in form in the past few games.
To give the defence more protection Gracia might opt for a 4-4-2 formation, similar to what Selles has done. A midfield of Aaranson-Adams-McKennie-Harrison with Ngonto and Bamford upfront might give Leeds more stability.
Either way it should be a hard fought match. Last week Southampton picked up seven yellow cards so it will be interesting to see how hard tackling they are in this game. With Adams and McKennie loving getting stuck in as well it should make for a match with a higher chances of cards.
There is so much uncertainty in this game that going with any low odds bets is high risk while high odds might turn out to be low risk.
I’m going to side against change at Leeds this week and back Paul Onuachu to score twice at 30.0 on Betfair for €4.
Waiting on teams but will also consider a bet on either Wober or Ayling for shots on target.