Bet of the Day: Leeds to win and progress against Derby County

14th September 2021

With Aston Villa having nailed down one of the places in the Championship play-off final, the second spot will be confirmed tonight when Leeds take on Derby. The Lilywhites are massive favourites to progress – odds of 1/10 are typical with most bookies – thanks to a 1-0 win at Pride Park on Saturday. However, Marcelo Bielsa will not be counting his chickens; a single-goal margin can be turned around in next to no time, and his side count losses against Birmingham and Wigan amongst their recent results. Only at the final whistle of this encounter will the idiosyncratic and brilliant Argentinian manager turn his thoughts to anything beyond tonight.

Leeds are managed in tonight’s contest by a world-renowned manager who has been plying his trade in the dugout since 1990, with clubs such as Marseille, Lazio and Athletic Bilbao as well as international jobs with Chile and his native Argentina on the CV. Derby, meanwhile, are under the tutelage of Frank Lampard, only just retired from playing and with less than a year on the clock as a boss. It makes for an intriguing contest in prospect tonight; can the novice overcome the master when it matters most?

Derby need to take the initiative

Bielsa’s approach to the game has been characterised as free-flowing, high-tempo and focused on attack – and the great Chilean sides of the late 2000s are an example of how he can deliver just that. However, in the first leg of this tie, his Leeds side showed a different layer to the veteran coach’s playbook. A nuggety, committed performance prevented Derby from finding the space to play Lampard’s preferred progressive game, which underlines the challenge before the visitors tonight. Marcelo Bielsa can beat you by playing beautiful football, and his sides can also drag you into a dust-kicking scrap, and beat you that way too.

To have any chance of progressing, Lampard will need to find a way of keeping the game out of the trenches; his side have to score, and must win on the night, so they’ll need to find space. This inevitably means they are going to have to take some risks – and Leeds will be counting on exposing the gaps they leave. Ladbrokes are currently offering 8/11 on Both Teams To Score, and that’s a decent punt; Derby are more than capable of getting on the scoresheet, but the seven goals they have conceded in three games against Leeds indicate that stopping their opponents will be more of a challenge.

A night for Bamford to shine?

If Leeds don’t make it to the Premier League, there will be no one player to blame. A collective loss of form through April and early May meant that the side who once led the Championship by five points ended up well short of automatic promotion. However, a lot of attention has fallen on the capricious form of Patrick Bamford, who stepped in to replace the injured Kemar Roofe and fared well initially, but then had an unenviable run in front of goal which included a nightmare against Birmingham. To add to this, the ex-Chelsea man dived to get opponent Anwar el-Ghazi sent off in a controversial clash against Aston Villa. He was retrospectively banned for deceiving the referee, and tonight sees his first game since that suspension.

Bamford’s teammates have indicated their support of the player, which is merited given his general value to the side and will to win. It may also be a canny tactical move; Roofe is again injured and will miss tonight’s match – a confident Bamford is essential for Leeds to carry an attacking threat here. He’s 17/5 with 888 to open the scoring, and it’s a price worth taking. The player has all the physical attributes to be a top striker, and if the part that he is missing is in his head, the support of his colleagues will play a positive part in supplying confidence and composure.

Leeds should have enough to triumph

As previously noted, the expectation that the hosts will get what they need here is such that backing them merely to progress is something of a waste of time. You’d need to put £10 on just to get a pound back on that market – and given that that can be thrown into doubt by an early Derby goal, there’s no real value in backing them along those lines. To get value, you need to apply a bit of nuance, which is best found in the Correct Score market.

Looking at this match, it’s clear that Derby will need to get on the front foot and really take the game to their opponents. The presence of talents such as Mason Mount, Harry Wilson and Jack Marriott in the Rams side means that they have every chance of making their mark on this game. The unavoidable counterpoint to that is that the more they attack, the greater their vulnerability will be – and against a team with such potency on the counter-attack, that could be fatal for Derby. William Hill have odds of 7/1 on the game finishing 2-1 to Leeds, and that’s exactly what we would predict will happen here.

Bets of the Day

Leeds 2-1 (William Hill, 7/1); Bamford to score first (888, 17/5); Both teams to score (Ladbrokes, 8/11)

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