Leeds United v Bolton Wanderers: YEP jury predictions

Alex Mowatt.
Alex Mowatt.
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The YEP jury makes its predictions ahead of Leeds United’s clash with Boltopn Wanderers at Elland Road.

STEPHEN CLARK

Leeds United’s season enters a critical period as the familiar surroundings of home offer Brian McDermott’s side a chance to catapult them into the promotion play-off picture.

After a four-game road trip which yielded six points, Leeds know that anything less than a similar harvest from the two home games this week will surely render the rest of the season meaningless. It’s common thinking that 75 points is the minimum requirement for a place in the top six of the Championship and with 14 games remaining Leeds are in the last chance saloon if they wish to get anywhere near that total.

With eight matches at home, Leeds need to capitalise on their fairly decent home record, and hope that they gain the confidence and self-belief to pick up results on the road.

It’s easy to understand the manager’s safety first policy, but with some impressive new tools at his disposal, it’s time to take off the shackles and really go for it over the next few weeks.

Saturday’s performance at QPR showed signs of promise, with the first half in particular producing the pressing, quick-tempo football we desire, but hampered by a lack of ambition and a side with two total passengers on the wings, Leeds lacked the wherewithal to deliver a knockout blow to a faltering opponent.

It is those wide areas which are causing the most concern. Jimmy Kebe, bar 15 minutes against Huddersfield, has been little short of abysmal, whilst Cameron Stewart appears not to have returned since the break in his loan spell from Hull.

If they fail to deliver against the Trotters, it may be time for the manager to rethink his strategy, and possibly draw on the shape of successful teams of the past.

Gordon Strachan, Gary Speed and Lee Bowyer are three names that come to mind that played in wide areas who would never be thought of as conventional wingers. The position on the left-hand side for me is crying out for Alex Mowatt to be given a chance, with Sam Byram ideally suited to play the role on the left. With a dogged ball-winning midfielder allowing Luke Murphy the chance to produce more of what he has shown in recent weeks, then Leeds won’t be far away from an excellent midfield combination.

I fancy Leeds to relish the home comforts tomorrow and win comfortably. The tools are there, it’s up to Brian McDermott to get the machine working.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Bolton Wanderers 0.

KEITH INGHAM

After five weeks away from Elland Road, Leeds return with a double-header versus Bolton Wanderers tomorrow then Reading on Tuesday – two must-win games.

I was happy with the general play during the first half at QPR but the continuing failure of our wingers was a blot on the performance.

The deal for Cameron Stewart is to be made permanent in the summer so hopefully he can improve but in my view Jimmy Kebe isn’t worth a starting place and maybe should be returned to his parent club.

The back five picks itself with Jason Pearce showing why he was so sought after during his Portsmouth playing career.

Bolton are 18th in the Championship with 33 points and come to Leeds 11 fresh from a 4-0 win over local rivals Blackburn.

With 14 games to play Leeds know that home wins will be important and I’m going for one this weekend but as in most games I’ve seen, it might be a narrow victory.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Bolton Wanderers 1.

ELLIOT BRANSBY

On Saturday we return to Elland Road for the first time in a month to play Bolton and with five of the next seven games at home, we need to be taking maximum points. We need wins now and draws aren’t enough if we are to make a late charge towards the play-offs.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Bolton Wanderers 1.

JONATHAN FORD

After a promising performance last weekend against QPR, a long-awaited home game has arrived and Leeds United will be looking for three points against a Bolton team who are very up and down at the moment.

We beat them away earlier in the season with a very defensive performance but tomorrow will be a far more attacking one, given the firepower we’ve now got.

Ross McCormack and Connor Wickham seemed to gel straight away up front and I can see only good things for them as a strike duo.

As always I will go for a Leeds United victory but it could be quite tight.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Bolton Wanderers 1.

GARY NEWBOULD

Centre forward loanee Connor Wickham should make his home debut after impressing last week at QPR. This is a game that the Whites simply must win if they are to avoid a premature end to their season. I’m expecting a few goals but a welcome three points.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 Bolton Wanderers 2.

MICHAEL HEMSWORTH

After a five-week break, Leeds finally return to Elland Road.

The close-season aside, I cannot remember such a long break between home matches before. Having come through that tough run of away fixtures relatively unscathed, but without pulling up any trees, it is time for the team to put on a show for the home fans.

With home debuts for Jack Butland and Connor Wickham to look forward to, I want to see Leeds really take the game to Bolton.

Although they had a big win last week, the Trotters are without an away win since November so are there for the taking.

Prediction: Leeds United 2 Bolton Wanderers 1.

Bristol City boss Lee Johnson and Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen.

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