Leeds United take on Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Monday in a 8pm kick-off at Elland Road.
The two teams head into this meeting level on points (albeit Leeds do have a game in hand), with both sides able to move above Arsenal into the top half of the table with a victory.
Leeds are odds-on 17/20 favourites to win the match, with the draw 29/10 and a Palace win 3/1.
I would not expect Leeds to be odds-on favourites if Wilfried Zaha was fit and available for this match, but given that he is not these odds look about fair to me.
Palace’s record without their talisman has been notoriously abysmal in recent years, with Roy Hodgson’s side losing all three games without scoring a goal when he has been absent this season.
I do think they can still threaten a Leeds side who will leave space in behind for them, though, but I can’t see them keeping Marcelo Bielsa’s side out at the other end.
Leeds have scored in 17 of their 21 league games this season, with Palace keeping a clean sheet just once in 11 games on the road, so I’ll back Leeds to score at least once.
Given that I expect Leeds to dominate possession, I’ll also back them to hit Over 4 Corners. They have done so in nine of their 10 home league games this season, with the one exception when they only had four against Burnley. However, given they took the lead after only five minutes in that game and travelled to West Brom only 48 hours later, it was pretty clear game state and a more defensive gameplan to conserve energy can explain that.
Palace, meanwhile, have conceded 7+ corners in six of their 11 away games, with only Burnley, West Brom, Fulham and an Aston Villa side reduced to ten men in the first half failing to hit 5+.
Andre Marriner officiates this clash, with the 50-year-old rediscovering his cards of late. Six of his last seven PL games have seen 40+ booking points and at least one card for each side shown, so I’m happy to back Leeds to receive one card given that they have done so in 18 of their 21 PL games and will likely have to cynically stop a few Palace counters.
Rather than also backing Palace to pick up one, though, I’ll back Over 1 Card for Both Teams Combined as Palace have failed to receive a card in six of their matches this season, including in the reverse fixture:
If you’re looking for a bigger price, Leeds to win, 1+ card each team and 3+ first half corners for Leeds is 4/1. I can see Leeds taking the game to Palace from the outset, with Bielsa’s side averaging 3.20 first half corners per game at home this season and Palace averaging 3.73 first half corners per game away from home.
One price which does catch my eye is Kalvin Phillips and Luka Milivojevic both to be carded at 18/1 (bet365). Both holding midfielders have received five bookings this season and aren’t shy of a cynical tackle. Mateusz Klich is certainly in that bracket too, leading Leeds’ fouls per game count, so 9/2 is a great price for him, too.
Other players of interest would be Ezgjan Alioski (4/1, Unibet) and Liam Cooper (6/1, bet365), with Jordan Ayew fouled 11 times in Palace’s last two games on that side of the pitch. Alioski and Cooper both have three bookings this season and could struggle with Ayew’s quick feet and physicality, but I’d wait for team news before backing one of them as it will be interesting to see which players Hodgson starts in the absence of Zaha.
Indeed, one player I’d love to see him show faith in is Palace’s new loanee Jean-Philippe Mateta. The French forward scored seven league goals for a struggling Mainz 05 side this season, largely due to his searing pace and powerful finishing in front of goal, so he could be the man to help fill the Zaha void. 11/4 (Betfair) is a decent price for him to score if he does start.
Ultimately, though, the player you would have to back above all others in that market is Patrick Bamford at 21/20 (Sky Bet). What a season he is having! He bagged one at Selhurst Park and should have had another but for the most farcical VAR offside decision we are ever likely to see.
Perhaps the best bet I have seen available on this game, though, is Jack Harrison and Raphina both to land a shot on target each at 16/5 (Betfair). This has landed in Leeds’ last three games, and in six of the 13 league games the wingers have started together, so it looks a cracking price in a game Leeds should dominate.