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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Ryan Shawcross may benefit from Leeds chaos

Stoke's trip to Elland Road could be wild

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa
1 of 1

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football, 4.30pm Sunday

Stick a boss hailed as El Loco in charge of a team as combustible as Leeds and you should expect fireworks – and a chaotic afternoon at Elland Road is definitely on the cards.

A knee-jerk assessment of a showdown between two promotion contenders might be to expect something close and tense.

But there’s nothing in the back catalogue of either Marcelo Bielsa or Stoke boss Gary Rowett to suggest that’s likely, and the new Leeds boss possibly has more to be fretful about.

The former Argentina and Chile gaffer – it is the eighth season in a row in which a different manager has taken charge of United’s first game – has brought in players but also seen exits and the balance of the team isn’t clear.

Bielsa is a 3-3-1-3 man and has been playing that in pre-season. But he looks short of centre-backs, indeed defenders in general, and Stoke ought to fancy their chances of posing problems for the home team.

Leeds are likely to be at their most disorganised at set-plays, so consider a punt on Ryan Shawcross to score first. It’s more than a decade since the Stoke veteran last played in the Championship and he scored seven times in that season. He’ll love attacking decent balls amid a new-look rearguard.

Leeds have won only four league matches since Boxing Day. Albeit in a higher section, Stoke have won just two league games over the same period.

The Potters have also endured a miserable pre-season though that hasn't stopped the layers making them title favourites.

Rowett, who like Bielsa, wants his teams playing on the front foot, is expected to unveil a completely new-look frontline of Tom Ince and James McClean either side of Benik Afobe, a trio which potentially could be very good.

R Shawcross first scorer

1pt e-w 33-1 bet365

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Bielsa is a 3-3-1-3 man and has been playing that in pre-season. But he looks short of centre-backs, indeed defenders in general
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