Leeds v Tottenham: Goals not a given at Elland Road

Marcelo Bielsa - Leeds
Leeds have been much more restrained in their approach in 2021

Tottenham face a tricky trip to Leeds on Saturday as they look to take a step closer to top-four contention. Mark O'Haire oversees the Premier League showdown from Elland Road.

"This wager has paid out in all five of Leeds’ home matches with Big Six opposition, and has lost on only three occasions at Elland Road all season"

Leeds v Tottenham
Saturday May 8, 12:30
BT Sport

Leeds fail to fire

Leeds' hopes of securing a top-half finish on the return to the Premier League received a blow as Marcelo Bielsa's men produced arguably their worst performance of the season in a 2-0 defeat at Brighton last weekend. The Whites were behind from the penalty spot inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour and conceded a second strike 11 minutes from time.

Brighton were allowed to play out from the back as top scorer Patrick Bamford, who is now five games without a goal, was left unusually isolated. Leeds were far from their breathless best in disjointed display not explained simply by the absence of the injured Kalvin Phillips, but also by the lack of flair, invention and inspiration brought by the creative Raphinha.

Post-match, Bielsa admitted: "We didn't play well. The victory for the opponent was fair. We created very little danger and it was difficult for us to recover the ball."

The Argentine is expected to recall Liam Cooper following suspension, with Helder Costa also returning to the fold. However, Phillips, Raphinha and Adam Forshaw remain sidelined.

Bale stars as Tottenham impress

Gareth Bale's hat-trick gave Tottenham a comfortable 4-0 victory over relegated Sheffield United as they maintained their pursuit of European football. The Welsh international broke the deadlock nine minutes before the break and added two more soon after the hour mark as Spurs found their range with Son Heung-min curling home a superb fourth goal.

Interim boss Ryan Mason brought Bale into his starting XI with Dele Alli in place of Harry Winks and Lucas Moura in an attack-minded side. Both gave good accounts of themselves - Alli showing sparkles of quality in the first half before fading - but it was Bale who stole the show, with a timely reminder of his quality fit and firing.

Mason paid tribute to Bale's contribution before adding, "The attitude, the desire to compete and to keep competing over 95 minutes was good. We had some real moments of quality but the bravery to play in every duel, every action, is the most pleasing thing. We defended strongly as a team. Some of our play was absolutely outstanding."

Spurs unappealing favourites

Leeds are looking for their first Premier League success over Tottenham since 2001 with the Whites well beaten 3-0 in the duos reverse encounter back in January. The hosts have W0-D1-L5 when taking on Spurs in league action over the past 20 years, however, Leeds do boast a W5-D2-L1 return when taking on Tottenham at Elland Road going back to 1996.

Leeds' 3.65 six-game unbeaten (W3-D3-L0) streak came to an abrupt end at Brighton last weekend with the Whites appearing to struggle without key pair Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha. The hosts have triumphed only twice in nine when Phillips has been absent, whilst taking top honours in just three of 11 fixtures when Raphinha's been unavailable.

Tottenham 2.0621/20 put their League Cup final misery behind them with a dominant display against already-relegated Sheffield United. Back-to-back home wins have put Spurs back into contention for Champions League qualification, although the visitors have W2-D4-L5 at teams outside of the bottom-six and boast a negative Expected Goals (xG) process away.

Oppose a high goal line

Eight of Leeds' last 13 Premier League fixtures have featured Under 2.5 Goals 2.427/5 and opposing goals appeals considering the high prices offered. In those aforementioned 13 fixtures, the average Expected Goals (xG) output was 2.55, suggesting the Whites matches haven't been quite as chaotic as they were earlier on in the campaign.

Indeed, Under 2.5 Goals has paid out in 10 of Leeds' 17 Elland Road outings since promotion, including six of nine when welcoming top-half opposition.

If Tottenham opt to field a similar set-up, an entertaining game could certainly unfold, and with 10 of Spurs' last 12 league dates crossing the Over 2.5 Goals 1.635/8 whitewash, it's easy to see why the market anticipates a goal-filled game. But taking the Under 3 Goals line at 1.834/5 gives us a degree of protection with exactly three goals returning a push.

This wager has paid out in all five of Leeds' home matches with Big Six opposition, and has lost on only three occasions at Elland Road all season.

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