Championship league leaders Leeds welcome high-flying Brentford to Elland Road on Saturday lunchtime. Mark O'Haire analyses the encounter and picks out his best bets.
"The Londoners have returned woeful W6-D5-L20 figures in games as guests at top-half clubs under Smith’s watch – recording only four clean sheets."
Leeds v Brentford
Saturday September 6, 12:30
Live on Sky Sports
Leeds back on top
Hull boss Nigel Adkins described Leeds as "probably one of the best teams in the Championship I've seen in many years" after watching his Tigers team go down 1-0 to the Whites on Tuesday night in Humberside. The victory sent Leeds back to the top of the Championship table with Tyler Roberts grabbing the only goal.
United enjoyed the better of the contest but poor finishing from Ezgjan Alioski and Barry Douglas meant the teams went in level at the break. Roberts broke the deadlock with a fine low strike from outside the area - Leeds' only on-target effort - and Marcelo Bielsa will be demanding more from his side in the final-third.
Bielsa will need to tinker with his 4-1-4-1 system on Saturday and make a first change to his starting XI in six games with left-back Douglas out injured. Youngster Tom Pearce could take his place, while none of Kemar Roofe, Pablo Hernandez, Gaetano Berardi, Patrick Bamford and Izzy Brown are expected to return just yet.
Brentford losing their buzz?
Brentford came from behind to earn a point against 10-man Birmingham in a feisty encounter at Griffin Park on Tuesday evening. Having conceded from a corner, the Bees bounced back with Josh McEachran levelling from a whipped free-kick that caught out Blues goalkeeper Lee Camp.
The visitors played the final 25 minutes a man down following Maikel Kieftenbeld's sending off for an off-the-ball clash with Brentford marksman Neal Maupay. Despite dominating possession, the Bees were unable to turn their territory and control into three points as their winless run extended to four.
Manager Dean Smith opted to drop goalkeeper Daniel Bentley and give Luke Daniels a chance in midweek and the reserve stopper is set to continue between the sticks after a reasonably impressive performance. Elsewhere, highly-rated forward Ollie Watkins should be fit enough to return to the fold.
Leeds [2.36] have won their past two when welcoming Brentford to Elland Road and the table-toppers have claimed 13/28 (46%) triumphs when hosting league opposition here since the start of last season. The Whites' only home reverse this term came against Birmingham last time out here, although Marcelo Bielsa's men were undone by two scratchy efforts from outside the box.
In spite of injuries robbing Bielsa of key personnel, United have continued to function superbly as a team. Leeds are operating from a 70% Expected Goals from open play ratio - a figure that's overtaken Brentford in recent weeks following a series of eye-catching performances.
Brentford [3.05] appear to have lost their clinical edge in recent weeks, while elementary errors at the back have cost Dean Smith's team dear. The Bees have W0-D3-L1 over their past four fixtures and remain winless on the road (W0-D3-L2) in 2018/19. However, their away record at elite teams is more concerning.
The Londoners have returned woeful W6-D5-L20 figures in games as guests at top-half clubs under Smith's watch - recording only four clean sheets. With Brentford struggling to find their best form on their travels, I'm happy to get the [1.72] on Leeds in the Draw No Bet market onside on Saturday.
In the five Leeds v Brentford meetings since 2009 at Elland Road, no encounter has featured more than two goals with three contests concluding with just a solitary strike scored. However, evidence suggests Saturday's showdown should excite and entertain with Over 2.5 Goals appealing at [1.76].
The two teams are amongst the Championship's front-runners for chance creation, both averaging over one Expected Goal from open play per-game, whilst the duo also fill the top two berths for shots attempted in the division.
Collectively, the pair are averaging 2.78 goals per-game from their opening 11 matches. What's more, nine of Brentford's past 15 trips to top-six teams have also broken the Over 2.5 Goals barrier.
Mark's 2018/19 Profit/Loss
Staked: 39.00 pts
Returned: 46.47 pts
P/L: +7.47 pts