Leeds United travel to Derby on Saturday evening as they get ready to take on Frank Lampard’s side in the first leg of their meeting in the Championship playoffs. Leeds will be disappointed to see their campaign extended as they looked good for automatic promotion all season until Norwich and Sheffield United took a hold and pulled away.
There’s a storyline and added bit of rivalry ahead of the first leg after Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa was caught out spying on Derby’s training sessions prior to one of their previous meetings earlier in the season. Frank Lampard took offence to Bielsa’s unique tactics but probably wished he had kept quiet about the whole thing as the Argentinian proceeded to present everything you could possibly need to know about Derby County to the entire world. This isn’t just a meeting between two manager’s gunning for a promotion the Premier League, but two managers who clearly have an issue with each other, so Saturday should make for interesting viewing, even on the side-lines.
Leeds hold the bragging rights over Derby this season, having won 4-1 at Pride Park all the way back in August and they also picked up three points with a 2-0 win over the Rams at Elland Road in January.
Tom Lawrence will play this weekend, much to the dismay of Leeds fans. Lawrence won a controversial penalty on the last day of the season against West Brom and managed to escape any form of punishment for simulation. This caused annoyance to Leeds fans after Patrick Bamford received a two-game suspension for “Successful deception of a match official” during their recent dramatic meeting with Aston Villa. Bamford has already sat out of one game, but he’ll also be suspended for Saturday’s first leg before being allowed to return for the concluding fixture.
Derby have injury problems at the back ahead of the first leg as Ashley Cole, Curtis Davies and Craig Forsyth will all miss out. Leeds are just missing Ezgjan Alioski and Barry Douglas who are both out for this season, and of course, Patrick Bamford who will serve the final game of his ban.
In terms of momentum, it’s Derby who have it before the playoffs get underway. The Rams earned their place in the top six after huge win over West Brom on the last day, whilst Leeds could be down in the dumps after missing out on automatic promotion which looked like a certainty for most of this season before they gave Sheffield United a helping hand in finishing second.
Derby are good value ahead of Saturday evening and I fancy them to earn a positive result to take with them to Elland Road for the return fixture. I like Derby Draw no Bet at 2.10, as well as Derby and draw at 1.53 which guarantees you some profit should they finish the game level.
Martin Waghorn will lead the line for Derby, just as he did during that huge 3-1 win over West Brom to book their place in the playoffs. Waghorn opened the scoring against the Baggies with a well-taken header and he is priced at 3.75 to score again this weekend which looks good to me for a player who should get a few chances against a Leeds defence which hasn’t been convincing at all in recent weeks.
Pontus Jansson will be in for a challenging evening as he will be up against tricky forwards in Tom Lawrence and Harry Wilson, as well as Mason Mount and Duane Holmes who like to drive forward from more central positions. Jansson is up at 2.62 to be pick up a booking on Saturday and it looks good for a player who isn’t shy of a rash challenge and telling a match official exactly how he feels.
Derby and draw @ 1.53
Martin Waghorn to score anytime @ 3.75
Pontus Jansson to be carded @ 2.62