CHAMPIONSHIP : LEEDS UNITED - WEST HAM UNITED
We took Leeds United at home to Southampton recently and somehow, I am still not sure quite how, Saints took all three points in a match totally dominated by United from start to finish, that day I wrote .....
Saints appear at first glance to be over their midseason wobbles and might well be playing top flight football next season, but I am still unconvinced by them on the road against the better teams, where they have shown very limited ambition at times. Nine times they have gone to play what could be termed promotion rivals and on each occasion, have set up too defensively IMO, happy to take a point, which is what they got in five of those games, losing the other four, so, five points from a possible 27. That is hardly form to strike terror into Neil Warnock's men and once again, I am pretty certain that Saints would take a point if it was offered now. This is "officially" Warnock's home debut, although he had already been appointed ahead of the late, late come from behind win over Doncaster Rovers, he oversaw the cleansheet at Portsmouth last week and will now want the win, which would take them right back into the heart of the playoff race.
Warnock is a man motivator and will have his troops fired up today, Leigh Bromby spoke about the boss this week and said "He's changed the mood of the place, he's experienced at this level and hopefully he can work his magic on us."His man-management is fantastic and he's a bit of character who says it how it is. He's a fantastic appointment."The lads respect him for what he's done, he can explode in the changing rooms, but it's all good. He knows how he wants to play and how to set-up."
NW knows several of the visiting team well, having managed them at previous clubs and knows how huge this game is for his team, as three points could get the juggernaut up and running. Lose and they will be faced with a postseason mountain to climb. Knocks for Lallana and Lambert for Saints, it will be a huge loss if either missed out. I just cannot pass on United getting a start in a fixture where I feel the away side would be happy to take a point .
That goal in the 1-0 loss, is the only one United have conceded since Warnock officially took charge, with two cleansheets and four points from visits to Hull City and Middlesbrough since then, two teams competing for at the very least a post season spot.If United have even half the chances they had at home to Southampton today, they will beat the Hammers with a degree of comfort. The visitors will be without Ricardo Vaz Te, Winston Reid, Julien Faubert, Guy Demel and Papa Bouba Diop who all miss out. Big game for the hosts, who need to build on their road results, especially with three of their next four starts coming at Elland Road, if they can find a way past WHU, the Warnock promotion train will have well and truly left the station, suspect Fat Sam would take a point, so Leeds with the draw no bet option, is too good to pass. 1.5 units Leeds United level ball asian line.
I doubt either side will need extra motivation this afternoon, but Warnock probably feels he has unfinished business with the Hammers from his Sheffield United days, this is the first time he has faced the Irons since attempting to sue them over the 2007 Carlos Tevez affair.