Championship: Derby County vs Leeds United – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Two of the Championship’s most intriguing sides got off to a winning start last week. They play one another in the late kick-off on Saturday
Action Images/John Clifton
17:30 BST, Saturday 11th August (Pride Park, Derby), Sky Sports Football
On Saturday, two of the Championship’s most intriguing managers meet when Leeds United head to Pride Park to take on Derby County.
Such is the focus on these two managers in particular, at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of experience, their new clubs have seen themselves renamed: Derby County are now Frank Lampard’s Derby County. Leeds United are Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United.
No, this isn’t a buggy copy of Championship Manager 2002 simming years into the future. This is actual football in the year 2018.
Over the weekend, both managers got off to winning starts. Derby were less than convincing away at Reading but picked up all three points thanks to Tom Lawrence’s last-minute header.
Leeds, on the other hand, raised eyebrows by beating bookies favourites Stoke City, with many surprised how effectively they’ve already adapted to Bielsa’s high-pressing style.
Who will keep their momentum going here?
Last Time Out
Reading 1-2 Derby County (Championship)
Champions League winner Lampard called the win “right up there with what I’ve done in my career,” such were the jubilant scenes on the touchline as Tom Lawrence headed in the injury time winner.
“It isn’t going to happen every week but those feelings are incredible. You could see from the celebrations how much that meant to us all.”
Truth be told, his Derby team were lacklustre for two-thirds of their trip to the Madejski Stadium. Reading were good value for their lead after Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s header in the 51st minute.
son Mount’s long-range effort bring his team level eight minutes later. The teenager on loan from Chelsea showed flashes of why he is held is such esteem but Vito Mannone should have done better.Derby responded well, however: Ma
It appeared the game was drifting to a draw — a fair reflection of the game — before Mason Bennett put in an exceptional cross to find Lawrence in the dying moments.
Leeds United 3 – 1 Stoke City
Marcelo Bielsa’s side were straight out of the traps in their packed-out opener at Elland Road. Within a couple of minutes Kemar Roofe tested Jack Butland and they didn’t let up from there.
This was unlike anything seen in the Championship and an emphatic answer to whether Bielsa could get second-tier players to carry out his gameplan.
The fans didn’t have to wait long for this answer: Mateusz Klich finishing off a wonderfully incisive team move with a Samuel Saiz no-look pass into the box cutting the Stoke defence open.
After creating a number of opportunities, Leeds were good value for another goal and, sure enough, it came in injury time at the end of the first half. Derby weren’t the only team to benefit from poor goalkeeping last weekend as Butland spilled Pablo Hernandez shot from the edge of the box.
Stoke got themselves back into it after Thomas Ince won a penalty from Barry Douglas clumsy challenge.
Benik Afobe scored a debut goal from the spot, but Leeds responded shortly after to restore their two-goal lead as Douglas made amends, sending in a dangerous corner met by Liam Cooper.
Derby County Lineup
It’s unlikely that Lampard will make too many changes. Expect to see a settled back four ahead of Scott Carson with Joe Ledley and Mason Mount sure to start again in midfield.
Ikechi Anya and Chris Martin will continue miss out through injury, though.
Despite the win, Derby put in a poor performance last weekend. The manager might look to bring in a couple of summer signings in order to get more out of them.
Former Brentford winger Florian Jozefzoon could be handed a professional debut while Jack Marriott could start over the veteran David Nugent.
Leeds United Lineup
Marcelo Bielsa has plenty to think about with a host of summer signings waiting to break in and Pontus Jansson getting back up to speed.
However, every single player acquitted themselves well against Stoke last week. Kemar Roofe led the line perfectly and was named Man of the Match, in part due to his work rate.
With the league cup back next week, don’t be surprised if Bielsa uses that as the opportunity to hand the new players competitive debuts: Jamal Blackman, Patrick Bamford, Jack Harrison and Lewis Baker might have to wait a little longer for a start.
Don’t rule out a switch to three at the back either, although it’s likely Bielsa will stick with the effective 4-1-4-1.
Key Battle: Mason Mount (Derby) vs Kalvin Phillips (Leeds)
One of the most impressive things about Leeds performance against Stoke was how well the midfield worked together collectively, showing the right amount of aggression in closing down the space in the centre of the pitch.
Joe Allen, so often the creative hub of Stoke’s offensive play, was shut down and never afforded the time and space he needs to spread the ball.
Leeds need to target Mason Mount in the same way. He has an ability to carry the ball forward, spread play or shoot from distance. This will be the collective responsibility from Leeds and the four ahead of Phillips will need to work just as hard again.
But the local boy will need to be switched on positionally as it’s his role to screen a defence who will push up and take risks once again.
He has a huge responsibility not to let Derby’s midfield win control and he must stop them spreading the ball out to their dangerous wingers.
A hero’s return for Pontus Jansson?
In one of the most complete performances in years at Elland Road, there was a positive and enthusiastic atmosphere and the 34,000-strong crowd were bowled over by Bielsa’s pressing philosophy.
The loudest chant, though, was reserved for a player who didn’t feature for a minute: as Pontus Jansson stretched on the touchline and waved to the Kop, he was met with a rapturous reception.
The Swede is a fan favourite due to his full-blooded performances at the back line and was a breath of fresh air in his first season under Garry Monk as Leeds just missed out on the play-offs.
He’s the most likely player to come back in. Making way would be makeshift centre-back, Gaetano Berardi. But one mistake aside, the Italian’s aggression and willingness to close down was effective.
It would be a big call to keep the fan-favourite waiting but Bielsa might privately have doubts about Jansson’s ability to defend up high. He will have to show versatility this season because he’s been at his best in the past in backs-to-the-wall scenarios.
Frank Lampard still figuring things out
He was given the perfect start to his managerial career last weekend but Derby looked far from promotion contenders or the side he envisages them being.
But its early days for the former England player and he should be given patience with regards to building a cohesive, top-quality team.
This will be an early opportunity to see what Lampard is made of as a manager. Will he stick with the same side, trust the players to improve and attempt to iron out the deficiencies on the training pitch? Does he have the nous to target the areas that need improvement? Will we see tactical intelligence and a new formation?
Prediction: Derby County 2-3 Leeds United
It will be difficult for Leeds United to emulate the same front-foot style away from home. In the last game, there were a couple of shaky moments at the back and Derby have the tools to exploit any mistakes or sloppiness.
But Leeds could have scored more than three against Stoke and the attacking interplay of the four behind Roofe was sumptuous at times. If they can produce similar, it will take a stellar defensive effort to keep them out.
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