Frank Lampard’s Derby County will look to overturn a one goal deficit on Wednesday night when they meet Leeds United in the second leg of their Championship play-off, with kick off set for 7:45pm at Elland Road. The visitors come into this clash knowing that they must score more than once to ensure a spot in the play-off final at Wembley, and having found the net five times in their last three matches away from home they will be confident of doing so. However, Marcelo Bielsa’s side will be no pushover in the slightest, just missing out on automatic promotion to Sheffield United due to the Whites disappointing run of form towards the end of the Championship campaign, winning none of their last four outings in the league.
For most of the season, Leeds United looked certain to earn promotion to England’s top flight with the team playing magnificent football at times, particularly in the lead up to Christmas. Despite their impressive displays and mainly positive results, Bielsa’s controversy regarding “spygate” and some less-than-convincing performances in April and May led to the unwanted task of taking part in the play-offs. Leeds are likely to enter this match-up as heavy favourites having gotten the only goal of the ninety minutes at Pride Park in the reverse fixture. A worry for Leeds fans ahead of this game will be their home form as they have not come out victorious in three of their last five at Elland Road, losing twice and drawing once in those games. There is one statistic that’s in their favour though, with Derby County failing to beat them in any of the pairs’ last four encounters, as Leeds ran out victors three times, maintaining clean sheets on the previous two occasions.
The Rams should be confident in their abilities of beating the odds and coming away from this game with an all important victory as they had not been beaten in any of their six matches prior to the first-leg versus Leeds. Lampard will be pleased to have led his team to the play-offs in his first ever job as a manager in football, however the former Chelsea midfielder will no doubt be desperate to boast a play-off final victory on his managerial CV. Derby finished the season in sixth position, one point clear of seventh placed Middlesbrough with a solid win over fellow play-off contenders West Brom sealing their spot in this affair. The disappointment of Saturday’s defeat at the hands of their upcoming opponent’s will still be fresh in the minds of the squad, but they haven’t been on the wrong end of a scoreline on their travels in their past three outings, drawing once and winning on two occasions. One goal could cause the hosts to crumble under the pressure and Derby have not lost in five of the last six matches in which they have scored first, earning three points in four of those meetings.
Leeds have a lengthy list of potential absentees for this fixture with Adam Forshaw (hamstring), Jamal Blackman (broken leg), Kemar Roofe (calf injury), Pontus Jansson (ankle) and Tyler Roberts (ankle) all doubts due to their respective issues. If Roofe is forced to miss out, Bielsa may deem Patrick Bamford as the perfect replacement for the club’s top-scorer. The formation is expected to remain similar, with one holding midfielder sitting just in front of the defence and a crowded four-man midfield in front of him.
Notable names that will not be on the team-sheet come Wednesday for Derby include Craig Forsyth, due to a cruciate ligament injury, and Curtis Davies with an achilles tendon injury. Other players that could sit this one out are Andy King and veteran defender Ashley Cole, whose experience could prove vital in a match of this importance, while Martyn Waghorn will be assessed. Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson will be looking to add to his tally and further his lead at the summit of the scoring charts for the club, and we may see some tweaks in the formation from Lampard as he attempts to out-think his new rival in Marcelo Bielsa.
Leeds to win and BTTS at 9/4 with SkyBet – Leeds have won three of the last four meetings between these two, with half of those matches seeing both team’s score. They are unbeaten in four of their last eight games and have scored in five of their last six, while Derby have found the net in six of their previous seven outings, failing to win in three of their last six.
Pablo Hernandez anytime goalscorer at 13/8 with Bet365 – Hernandez has been Leeds’ go-to player this season and looks set to play a big part in Wednesday night’s encounter. The Spaniard has netted 12 times in the Championship this season.