With majority of EFL opening matches complete, there are just four teams left to kick off their season.
First up is a Sunday visit to Elland Road as Leeds United host Stoke City in a game that could go a long way in affecting the promotion race come May.
Both teams have new managers in charge with Leeds now under the management of Marcelo Bielsa – who has never managed in England before, whilst Stoke have appointed the experienced Gary Rowett.
Therefore, will Championship experience win out over the newbie in the dugout?
Leeds could hand Patrick Bamford a debut start after signing the forward from Middlesbrough in midweek.
Bamford’s fellow ex Boro teammate, Adam Forshaw meanwhile has been ruled out with a foot injury for the next two months.
Stoke are expected to hand out competitive debuts for many of their new signings, with; Benik Afobe, Tom Ince and James McClean all set to start.
- Stoke City are unbeaten in last three meetings against Leeds United (W2 D1)
- Two of Stoke’s last three trips to Elland Road have ended in 0-0, winning the other by a 4-0 margin.
- Leeds are starting their season on a Sunday for the third consecutive season but the last two opening games saw them play away with contrasting results (W1, L1)
- Marcelo Bielsa is Leeds’ eighth different manager in charge at start of a new season for eighth campaign running.
- Stoke are winless on opening weekend of a new season since they beat Burnley in August 2009, drawing three and losing five since then.
I can see goals here because Bielsa will probably have Leeds playing attacking football with a high defensive line, meaning that they will be vulnerable on the counter.
Bielsa however has history for fielding a 3-3-1-3 formation but I feel that this won’t work well in English football because it’s quite complex and risky. Therefore, we should see the 4-3-3 style employed here by Leeds.
Stoke therefore need to be defensively solid, which will be tough after being amongst the worst teams in Europe when it came to conceded goals.
Ultimately, I can see Leeds taking victory here if don’t fatigue themselves depending on how attacking their play.
Prediction: Leeds United 2-1 Stoke City
Result: Leeds United 3-1 Stoke City