Leeds United are still looking for their first league win of the season, and Kevin Hatchard doesn't believe it will arrive against West Ham...
"West Ham beat Leeds home and away last season, and the injury-hit Whites have been tame in attack and fragile at the back."
Wide-open Leeds still winless
There is so much to like about Marcelo Bielsa's approach to football, but it requires nerves of steel to last the course. Last season, the Whites were exceptional as they secured ninth spot in their first season back in the Premier League. However, Bielsa's sides always give the opposition a chance to play, and there'll always be spells in seasons where things aren't going well.
Leeds haven't won any of their first five league games this term, picking up three draws and losing heavily to Manchester United (5-1) and Liverpool (3-0). If we look at the Expected Goals Against figures from Infogol, we see that Leeds have given up a figure of above 1.0 in every single top-flight match this term. Leeds have allowed a league-high 91 shots so far, and their figures of shots on target against (35) and therefore shots on target per 90 (7) are also division highs.
At the other end of the pitch, Leeds are struggling to create quality scoring chances. Opta tell us that 47% of Leeds' goal attempts so far have been from outside the box, the highest percentage in the league. They have only managed five goals in the league so far, and in the League Cup in midweek they drew 0-0 at Fulham, only making progress via a penalty shoot-out.
To add to the somewhat worrying picture, injuries have bitten hard. Patrick Bamford, Robin Koch and Diego Llorente have all been ruled out for this weekend's action. Pascal Struijk is suspended after his red card against Liverpool, and there are fitness doubts surrounding Luke Ayling, Jack Harrison and Raphinha.
Hammers on a high after conquering Old Trafford
West ham went from a crushing low to a dizzying high in the space of two back-to-back matches against Manchester United. In the Premier League, manager David Moyes controversially threw on veteran midfielder Mark Noble to take a last-gasp penalty, only to see United keeper David De Gea repel the spot-kick and seal a 2-1 defeat for the East London side.
Then Moyes overcame his old club at Old Trafford in the League Cup, as an early goal from Manuel Lanzini was enough to secure a 1-0 win. In their last two road matches, the Hammers have won very impressively at Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League and handed Manchester United their first home defeat of the campaign.
After missing both games against Manchester United, Michail Antonio should return to spearhead the West Ham attack. He already has four Premier League goals this term, and given that he's netted a tally of ten PL goals in each of the last two seasons, that's an encouraging start for a player that has become a true talisman.
Moyes is expected to shuffle his pack, with Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna likely to return at centre-back, and Lukasz Fabianski set to replace Alphonse Areola in goal. Pablo Fornals should come back to the front four, as West Ham look to extend a run of five Premier League away games without defeat.
Hammers are worthy favourites
West Ham's price in the Match Odds market has steadily shortened, and given Leeds' injury problems and their disappointing form, the price of 2.3611/8 for the visitors seems about right.
I'm going to use the Sportsbook's Bet Builder to back the Hammers with a bit more insurance. If you back West Ham/Draw Double Chance, West Ham to have four or more shots on target and Michail Antonio to have a shot on target, you get a combined price of 2.021/1.
Antonio has already had eight shots on target in four league appearances, and Leeds have coughed up an average of seven shots on target per match. West Ham won home and away against Leeds last season, and I don't think they'll lose here.
Magic Michail to strike again?
If you don't just want to include Michail Antonio in a Bet Builder, there are other ways to make another excellent display of his pay. You can back him to have two or more shots on target at 2.47/5, or back him simply to score at 2.255/4.
Both teams to find the net?
Both teams have scored in four of West Ham's five league games, and 11 of their last 15 in the top flight if you stretch back further. As for Leeds, all but one of their PL games this term have seen a BTTS bet land, and that's true of 10 of their last 15 at this level.
BTTS is therefore understandably short at 1.51/2, but you could double it up with an Over 2.5 Goals bet on the Bet Builder at 1.715/7.
Kevin Hatchard 2021-22 Premier League P/L
Points Staked: 7
Points Returned: 7.74
P/L: +0.74 points
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