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West Ham vs Leeds: Predictions
David Moyes’ remarkable renaissance in east London has culminated in West Ham entering the business end of the season looking to break the glass ceiling and challenge for a Champions League place, but they face a daunting home fixture against Marcelo Bielsa’s enigmatic Leeds on Monday night.
The Hammers have enjoyed a transformation under the Scot that few saw coming. At this stage last season they were scrapping near the foot of the table to retain their top-fight status; fast forward 12 months, and they are now looking up, hoping to unsettle the established hegemony and clinch European football.
Their recent form hit an expected snag at the weekend as champions elect Man City just edged a 2-1 win in the North West, while their rivals for the top four/six collected midweek wins, which has just seen them slide from fourth at the weekend to sixth.
In the reverse fixture, West Ham came back from a goal down to win 2-1 at Elland Road, but Leeds are something of a Jekyll and Hyde club, bullying teams one week, only to misfire the next. Bielsa’s boys currently sit in 11th, but no matter the result, they are always a joy to watch, though I’m sure the Argentine would rather the points.
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West Ham vs Leeds: Match Stats
Leeds may enter this contest having captivated and transfixed fans with their aesthetically pleasing brand of football, but the reality is they remain in the bottom half of the table with a negative goal difference. So, results may not always be forthcoming, but there is always one guarantee when Leeds play, beyond the entertainment value: Bielsa’s men will fight tooth and nail for 90 minutes straight, no respite.
Such an inexorable mentality is tied into their ‘murderball’ training regime away from the turf, and is perhaps best emphasised by their tackling metrics for the season, with only Southampton (508) registering more than Leeds (495) so far.
So, Moyes knows he is in for a scrap, but one player who could be the difference-maker in this showdown is Michail Antonio who, following his goal against City, has now been directly involved in 19 goals across his last 22 Premier League starts for the club (15 goals, four assists).
West Ham came from behind to beat Leeds back in December after going a goal down in the sixth minute. Moyes was able to mastermind that turnaround without Antonio, with Sebastien Haller leading the line at Elland Road, so he will be hoping for a performance similar, if not better than their previous meeting with the Whites now that he has his talismanic forward back fit and firing.