Preview: Leeds United vs. Derby County - prediction, team news, lineups
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Sept. 19, 2019
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship showdown between Leeds United and Derby County, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Leeds United and Derby County renew hostilities on Saturday when the two sides meet in a repeat of last season's dramatic playoff semi-final.
The hosts go into the match sitting top of the Championship table after seven games, whereas Derby are languishing down in 19th place, just two points clear of the relegation zone.
Fixtures between these two sides defined much of the 2018-19 Championship season, from the infamous Spygate saga to the history-making playoff semi-final.
The former incident sparked widespread debate amongst football fans and almost immediately created a unique rivalry between the two clubs, which made the semi-finals all the more captivating.
Leeds seemed on course for Wembley when they won 1-0 at Pride Park , only to squander that advantage as Derby ran out 4-2 winners in the return leg - their most recent visit to Elland Road.
There has been a change in the Derby dugout since then, but Marcelo Bielsa remains in charge of Leeds and it is his side who have responded better to their playoff disappointment.
Defeat to Swansea City before the international break saw them surrender top spot to their opponents, but they swiftly regained their place at the summit with a late 2-0 win in their Yorkshire derby with Barnsley last weekend.
Bielsa's side have now conceded just one goal in their last five league outings and a division-low three all season, while only Bristol City and Preston North End have scored more goals.
There are promising signs that Leeds will once again be there or thereabouts when it comes to the promotion race, then, but if they are to achieve that then they will need to improve a home record which has seen them lose four and win just one of their last seven outings at Elland Road across all competitions.
Revenge over Derby would certainly be a good start and, while the visitors will have fond memories of this ground from last season, those will already feel like a long time ago.
The Rams have struggled under new boss Phillip Cocu so far, picking up seven points from their opening seven games to leave them already nine points adrift of Saturday's opponents.
Cocu's side are winless in six outings since the opening day of the season, most recently a 1-1 draw with Cardiff City last Friday.
There will be particular concern about their away form; while both of their wins across all competitions this season have come on the road, their last two away matches have ended in chastening 3-0 defeats.
Cocu will naturally be compared to his predecessor Frank Lampard , so it is perhaps important to note that Derby have at least lost fewer games after seven matches this season than they had at the same stage last term, although they are also five points worse off.
The Dutchman is desperately in need of a result to kickstart his season, and an upset against a Leeds side who are favourites for promotion would certainly fit the bill.
Derby form: DLDLLD
Leeds boss Bielsa has an almost fully-fit squad to choose from for this game, with Adam Forshaw in contention to return after missing the win over Barnsley with a knock.
Tyler Roberts and Luke Ayling also stepped up their recoveries by featuring for the Under-23s on Monday, and the former in particular could be involved this weekend after being named on the bench against Barnsley. Ayling is set for another run-out for the Under-23s against Hull City on Friday.
Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah will be hopeful of making his first league start for the club after coming off the bench to score again last time out - his fourth goal in six outings.
Derby, meanwhile, will be without the suspended Tom Lawrence after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season from just seven games on Friday.
Jayden Bogle is also expected to miss the match as he continues to recover from an ankle injury, although last season's young player of the year is closing in on a return to action.
Lee Buchanan is back in training too, while Craig Forsyth and Andre Wisdom continue to make progress with their comebacks, but Ikechi Anya is a long-term absentee for the visitors.
Leeds possible starting lineup: Casilla; Dallas, White, Cooper, Alioski; Hernandez, Forshaw, Phillips, Klich, Harrison; Bamford
Derby possible starting lineup: Roos; Lowe, Keogh, Clarke, Malone; Huddlestone, Bielik; Waghorn, Holmes, Jozefzoon; Marriott
We say: Leeds 2-0 Derby
Derby have lost two Premier League-quality talents in Mason Mount and Harry Wilson since the last meetings between these two sides, while Leeds look like they have improved despite the exit of Kemar Roofe . The form book points firmly to a home win, and we are backing Bielsa's men to march on in Saturday's early kickoff.