Leeds United (A): Predicted line-ups, pre-match thoughts & team news

A turbulent two weeks was capped off admirably over the weekend, with Bruce’s patched up Mags finding a way to earn a massive three points over a West Brom.

It was a win that sent us well clear of the bottom three and instead on the cusp of the top 10 ahead of winnable games against Leeds and Fulham.

First up is Bielsa’s newly promoted Leeds – an expansive, high-energy side who are brave, bold, yet naive at the back.

For all their attractive football and entertaining encounters, they sit below us in the table and with just one win in their last six – meanwhile we’ve lost just once away from home all season.

Recent form suggests we could do a job on them, but one thing that’s stuck with me is how much we struggled to compete with Southampton’s intensity and pressing a few weeks ago.

To emerge victorious here we’ll have to match their effort levels and make the most of the space they often give you on the counter.

Team news

Steve Bruce has confirmed that Federico Fernandez and Ryan Fraser are set to return, with the former overcoming Covid and the latter “fully fit” after a recent hamstring injury.

The gaffer has also hinted at least two or three changes due to fatigue, so it remains to be seen if Isaac Hayden will be able to play again after his heroics in the win over West Brom.

Elsewhere, Allan Saint-MaximinJamaal LascellesFabian Schar and Javier Manquillo have also been ruled out, while Mark Gillespie, Martin Dubravka and Paul Dummett seem likely to be sidelined again after failing to feature in any of the club’s training photos.

Predicted line up

Predicted NUFC XI (5-3-1-1): Darlow – Murphy, Hayden, Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie – Hendrick, S Longstaff, Almiron – Joelinton – Gayle.

This would require a host of changes and Bruce dropping the four-man defence he promised to stick with, but hear me out.

To begin with, I think he may just opt for a five-man defence given the attacking overload Leeds tend to come with. Not only that, Lewis and Krafth both struggled last weekend, and those capable of replacing them while Manquillo remains out (Murphy and Ritchie) are far more suited to playing at wing-back than they are in a flat back four while

So, I can see Fernandez returning now he’s back from Covid and think Hayden should be just about fit enough to continue in defence alongside Clark. Bruce said Hayden has been struggling with fatigue this week, but he won’t need to run too much in this role and will be needed given how good he was against West Brom.

In midfield, I think Sean Longstaff’s energy will be deemed key against such a high-intensity side, but reckon Shelvey may be rested for that exact reason. We’d miss his passing range, but I think Bruce may protect him ahead of crucial games against Fulham and Brentford in the next 6 days, not to mention the fact he may struggle to last the pace.

With that in mind, I can see Hendrick returning and Almiron playing in that slightly deeper role that saw his energy and pace be put to good use in recent results against Wolves and Everton. It’s not his preferred position, but his work rate defensively and frightening pace at the other end could cause Leeds problems.

At the top end of the pitch, I’ve gone with no Wilson. In an ideal world he’s start – of course he would – but can Bruce really start him FOUR times in 11 days after that recent hamstring injury? With Gayle back with a bang last weekend and having a brilliant record against Leeds, I think he’ll start.

As for Joelinton, he could play in that free role in between a three-man midfield and Gayle, allowing him to drive from deep and support Gayle on the counter.

The opposition

Here’s a few ones to watch in Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds side:

Patrick Bamford – Anyone who regularly watches Championship football would’ve said he’d struggle to cut it at Premier League level, yet he’s scored more than our very own Callum Wilson so far. It’s worth noting that just one of his 8 this season have come at Elland Road, but no player has had more shots in the box than him this season, highlighting how many good chances Leeds often create.

Kalvin Phillips – Their best player for me and the man who often pull the strings from deep. Has a brilliant range of passing for a holding midfielder but is also strong defensively. Give him too much time on the ball and his cross-field passes could cause all sorts of bother!

Raphinha – The Brazilian winger completed a £17m move from Rennes over the summer and is starting to find his feet at Leeds. He’s skilful, quick and scored a brilliant goal in their win at Everton a few weeks ago.

Predicted Leeds XI: (4-4-1-1): Meslier – Dallas, Ayling, Cooper, Alioksi – Raphinha, Phillips, Klich, Harrison – Rodrigo – Bamford.


I’ve got a bad feeling about this one, despite the fact we’re the side in form.

The West Brom win was a brilliant effort from all involved, but we tired badly in the second half and are now coming up against a high-energy side who can tear teams apart if they’re allowed to.

They are naive defensively and could be punished if we set up with pace in attack, however I fear they’ll click into gear and outwork us as Southampton did a few weeks ago.

PredictionLeeds 2-0 Newcastle


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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan, he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC!

42 thoughts on “Leeds United (A): Predicted line-ups, pre-match thoughts & team news

  1. Unless Wilson had Covid I doubt he will be rested for Leeds. You look at Liverpool and they have 2 games a week, every week. Salah and Mane play every game.

    I am going to say it again, but I do not understand the secrecy because it comes out anyway. Like with Hayden. And then you know anyway who had it by seeing who is missing in training. I think they lied about St Max and his “injury”. No proof, just I know how NUFC operate.

    I will repeat what I said about West Ham as well. They were better than Leeds and could have had more goals. Leeds are very open at the back and vulnerable on set plays.

    Player for player we are better if our players are recovered but their high intensity may see us struggle a bit with energy after Covid and not training. However, I think Leeds are there for the taking and are overhyped. The only thing they have going for them is Bielsa v Bruce but we should figure out the high press as we play against it almost every week.

    Problem is that like Olly says we have failed miserably against some of the teams that play like this – Brighton, Southampton etc and sit back on the 18 yard line. But we do have the players to beat the press. I was a bit encouraged that Bruce actually went for it with subs against West Brom.

    I am holding off on a prediction until I see the team.


  2. Bruce subbed both fullbacks against West Brom. I think at least one of them wont play. My guess is Krafth as he was on international duty and probably came back with Covid. He did a like for like with Yedlin so that is most likely with Murphy on the bench with Dwight and Fraser. I dont think Bruce WANTS to play Yedlin and he is available for transfer so I will stick my neck out and say he will play Murphy as a full back. I wouldnt be surprised to see Hendrick either and a 4-3-3. So,


    Murphy Clark Fernandez Lewis

    Hendrick Shelvey Longstaff

    Miggy Wilson Joelinton


  3. The other thing is Bruce mentioned fatigue in his presser. He indicated that Hayden would not play. Any others that had Covid and started Saturday probably wont start. Problem is we dont know who they were but by their sluggish displays you might conclude Krafth and Lewis.

    Wilson and Miggy looked lively and Joe did a bit of running so I doubt they had Covid and should start. I dont think we will risk Gayle or Fraser from the start and will give them 20 minutes as subs with Fulham in mind where I am sure they will start, whatever the result.


  4. Been thinkin a bit more and Bruce will want Ritchie on the pitch. I Think he will replace Lewis to take the kid out of the firing line. This is a bit of a risk as it means neither of our wide defenders are natural fullbacks. If we start to get overrun I think Bruce will switch to a back 5 as long as we are not down by more than 1 goal and will try to nick a draw on the break.

    I really hope Bruce watched the West Ham game as Leeds are not the force of nature that some of the pundits make out. Bielsa does not have a plan B and you know what you are going to get. David Moyes, of all people, sussed it. If Haller was not their version of Joelinton it could have been done and dusted by half time.


  5. I love the way Leeds play – high energy & workrate.

    It’s not lost on me that they are 3 points behind us & having played 1 more game than us as well. I also acknowledge that they have conceded 13 and only scored 5 – not great stats.

    But Leeds are entertaining to watch & isn’t that what every football fan wants?!. The same pundits who wax lyrical about Leeds are the same ones who dig at NUFC fans for complaining about the football we are dished up.
    I know most say that Bruce’s way is effective in terms of getting points on the board – and that’s factually accurate I suppose, but NUFC fans don’t find that way entertaining.

    They also say that it’s a different group of players – also accurate. But the players Bielsa took at Leeds were championship players – how many of them would get into the top 6 – even now??.
    The stats even suggest that he doesn’t have top players – 13 goals against doesn’t scream top defence and 5 for isn’t top forwards. They are 11 players that work extremely hard individually & as a team.

    I don’t see Leeds winning anything any time soon. But they entertain. They are exciting to watch – something as a 42yr old NUFC fan I can remember all too well.

    If your team aren’t winning trophies – and let’s be fair, there are only 3 domestic trophies up for grabs each season, so it’s likely your team is only competing – then at least for the fans sake, compete in an entertaining fashion.


  6. Can’t get excited by suggestions Hendrick, Ritchie and Joe all likely to start. Ritchie tries his best but that’s not good enough any more. The other 2 plus Krap are rubbish.


  7. Bilic sacked. I dont know what they expected with the players he had.

    That brings me to Bruce. Isnt there some stat that he has the worst win % in PL history for Managers who have a certain number of games. That wont include a lot of managers as there will have been many sacked after only a few games like Bilic. But if you think of the teams Bruce managed and where they are now, this might be doing him a disservice. I can think of Sunderland, Hull, Wigan, Birmingham. Not exactly powerhouses!

    We are the biggest club he has ever managed by far and he has the best squad he has ever managed by far. He should not be playing drab football with this squad and we will see if it was the players and lack of ambition at other clubs that held him back or if he is just a very limited manager.


  8. Some interesting games today.

    If Arteta loses a 5th home game in a row against Southampton will they stick with him?

    Will Spurs the bus and hit them on the counter work for Jose against Liverpool? They have the players in Kane and Son to do it.

    I even think Leicester/Everton is worth a watch. We will see who the pretender is between them. I think Everton get off lightly the amount of money they have spent. That’s the stick they beat Man U with but Everton are just as bad.


  9. Olly: you really think Bruce will play Hayden? He hinted he wont.

    You might be right about a back 5 to accommodate Ritchie and Murphy. Krafth and Lewis were by far our worst players against West Brom but maybe Krafth will be switched inside where he has played before as part of 3 CBs. We’ll see soon. The alternative would be longstaff in sort of a sweeper role keeping an eye on Bamford. I still think Wilson will start.

    And Oh fck, I just realised that the sacking of Bilic means we will be seeing much more of Big Fat Sam on TV. I think that is the saddest part of the whole situation.


  10. You know if he keeps Wbrom up he will call it a greater achievement than Pep or Klopp winning the league.


  11. It will be a tough game tonight I think. I do like Leeds and they are exciting to watch. I hope we win but we tend to fold against entertaining teams like Leeds


  12. Wow!!! Sunderland have informed the EFL they will not be able to play their next 3 games because of Covid.


  13. Brucie surpised me. Didnt see him dropping Shelvey and Ritchie or starting Fraser. He had said Hayden was knackered so I thought he wouldnt start.

    Looks like he is going with 4-3-3 with option to move Hayden to a back 5.


  14. C an’t call it tonight at all, they are not great in defense, particularly set pieces against them but we also struggle with the high press/tempo teams.
    If they get an early goal, i can see us folding like a pack of cards, we probably need to keep it tight and hit them on the break, that seems the easiest route to a goal against them.

    Anyway HWTL


  15. Eric Sykes:
    Brucie surpised me. Didnt see him dropping Shelvey and Ritchie or starting Fraser. He had said Hayden was knackered so I thought he wouldnt start.

    Looks like he is going with 4-3-3 with option to move Hayden to a back 5.

    Eric – it’s 3 CBs I reckon with Lewis & Murphy as wing backs.

    It’s yet another change to the team & formation despite winning the last game – whereas Leeds have gone with the same set up & 11 (I think).

    This has been Bruce’s biggest mistake this season imo. He changes things too often.

    We will see if it’s a good call for tonight’s game – but to me it looks like he’s setting up defensively & fearful of Leeds – especially when you look at the bench and players he could have went with.


  16. Leeds are also a short team, but we need better set piece delivery. Lewis just wasted one. I would have Fraser try.

    I have said it before but it doesnt seem to matter whether Shelvey, Ritchie or Longstaff take set pieces they usually hit the 1st man or end up in the stand.


  17. Get in…

    Leeds are doing what they do. Missing chances (or Darlow saves) and being **** in defense.


  18. I had a feeling Leeds would score. We are again giving them too much possession and backing off after our lead. It will be a tough second half. Hard to call this one.


  19. Gilly Toon:
    I had a feeling Leeds would score. We are again giving them too much possession and backing off after our lead. It will be a tough second half. Hard to call this one.

    Gilly – it was obvious by his team selection that was his plan from the start.


  20. It’s p!issing me off – 70% possession to Leeds & 14 shots. They really aren’t THAT good FFS!!.

    Every interview Bruce bangs on about how we’ve improved up front – What does it matter if you’re happy for your team to have 30% or less.


  21. Another set play. Fraser with the corner! Hopefully that will keep Longstaff, Shelvey and Richie off them.


  22. Bruce will blame COVID for tonight but our match stats mirror every game under Bruce.
    He bottled it again tonight with the 3 CBs & allowing the over 70% of possession & over 20 shots.

    I’m so sick and tired of Bruce and his bullsh!t – this is ****!!.

    What a disgrace!!.


  23. GOOD!!

    Good for Leeds – they are getting what they deserve for playing football – and Bruce is getting what he deserves!!.

    The heavier we get beat with this approach the better.

    He’s [email protected] about with the team AGAIN and he’s got exactly what he deserves!!.

    I want us in the bottom 3 now!!. I don’t want to just pick up points and survive the Bruce way – f&ck that!!.

    I don’t mind losing a game we try to win, but losing a game we tried not to lose – thats BS!!.


  24. kimtoon:
    Embarrassing scoreline this like

    Kim – if you look at the stats it should be worse really.

    Bruce will blame COVID and fatigue though and get away with it ??‍♂️


  25. This fuc.king cabbage need needs to go now. And he can take fuc.king Sean Longstaff with him. 5-2. against Leeds… ?????????????
    Shocking, just fuc.king shocking. 30% possession aaagggggghhhhhhh Fuc.k of Cabbage face. Not to mention the penalty we should’ve had! ???


  26. There’s a show over here called Men in Blazers with a couple of sort-of comedians talking football. It is quite good actually, a bit like Skinner and Badiel used to be. The TRex armed Mackem is on as a guest today. Let me see if he changes my mind about him being a bit thick. That is is reputation although I have never really seen him interviewed.


  27. Even though Leeds are **** at corners we overcommitted and left ourself open on fast breaks. If you watch Spurs they will often leave Sissoko as an extra man at half way because Mourinho knows what he is doing and knows you dont always have to chase the game and there will be more opportunities.

    Need 3 points against Fulham because Xmas will be tough. I expect no points from those 3 games and probably 12 goals to about 2.


  28. I mean, if you play a high press, high possession, high tempo team like Leeds it should be you hitting THEM on the break. That was the game plan but they hit us on the break. Before the 3rd Leeds goal the commentator said Leeds had a pass ratio of 4-1 compared to NUFC.


  29. I don’t even think it’s fair to criticise the players anymore – I mean, tell me any player who could do anything in a team where the manager is happy for his team to have 30% possession or less.

    The COVID excuse could have been used against WBA, but tonight was just back to Bruce.

    I can’t stand to listen to the man now – there’s nothing he has to say that I’d want to hear – other than ‘I quit’.


  30. Eric Sykes:
    I mean, if you play a high press, high possession, high tempo team like Leeds it should be you hitting THEM on the break. That was the game plan but they hit us on the break. Before the 3rd Leeds goal the commentator said Leeds had a pass ratio of 4-1 compared to NUFC.

    Eric – it was the carbon copy of the ending of the Man Utd game – so it’s great that Bruce has learned lessons.


  31. Leeds deserved the win. They were quicker to every ball, more alert, won every tackle and were 30% fitter than us. They also have a proper coach but those attributes don’t take much teaching. What Bruce does is a different matter. Does he do anything? I wish he would just go away!

    Having said all that Covid has a big effect and fatigue is to be expected.


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