Leeds United v West Ham - key battle, Hammers key man and Graham Smyth's prediction

Ahead of today's Premier League clash between Leeds United and West Ham, the YEP's chief football writer Graham Smyth highlights the key aspects of the contest at Elland Road.

Saturday, 25th September 2021, 12:35 pm
Updated Saturday, 25th September 2021, 12:38 pm

Key battle - the midfield

Set-pieces will be one key battle and, if the Whites have to go with a makeshift backline again, that may also be where this game could be won or lost, but the midfield has been key all season. Kalvin Phillips, and whoever partners him as Leeds’ numbers eight and 10, will meet his England partner Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek, right. Leeds have to get control, their press needs to function better than it has and they need to attack like they did against Newcastle, but this time take their chances. West Ham have more quality than Newcastle, so a ‘basketball’ game like at St James’ Park would be worrying.

West Ham's key man - Michail Antonio

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HAMMERS KEY MAN: West Ham striker Michail Antonio. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

David Moyes rested his star striker for the Carabao Cup game against Manchester United in order to save him for the trip to Elland Road. Antonio missed the Premier League game against the Red Devils through suspension last week so should be well rested. Leeds will be hoping he’s a little rusty because, having plundered four goals and three assists in the opening four league games, he could be a real problem. Even if he’s not scoring, he’s causing trouble and providing an outlet or creating space for others. A real dangerman but unlike Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin, with a much more able supporting cast.

Graham Smyth's Verdict

This is not quite a copy and paste job from the Newcastle game, because West Ham United are a more difficult side for a variety of reasons, but it is a big game. Even if they don’t win, Leeds need to show they’re competitive and the performance needs to show signs of progression.

A draw would be fine, given the two clubs’ respective starts to the season. I can see it, too, by a 1-1 scoreline.

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Thank you Laura Collins