Football – England – Championship
Wednesday 20th February 2013 – Kickoff: 1945hrs
Next up is a mid-table clash in the Championship between Leeds United and Blackpool at Elland Road on Wednesday night with both teams anxious for three points to kick-start a late challenge on the play-off places.
Leeds will be relieved to be returning to familiar surroundings following a lean spell on their travels with defeats at South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley 0-2 and Middlesbrough 0-1 midweek last week with a point at lowly Wolves sandwiched in-between.
Last time out at Elland Road however, they lost to league leaders Cardiff City which is no disgrace given the Bluebirds’ dominance over the division, but now they can turn their attentions to visiting Blackpool tonight who have a third manager this season now at the helm, Paul Ince.
Aside from the recent Cardiff City result, Leeds have been strong on home soil having racked up six straight wins prior to the visit of Cardiff with wins over top six clubs such as Crystal Palace 2-1, Leicester City 1-0 and Middlesbrough 2-1, along with victories over Ipswich Town 2-0, Bolton 1-0 and Bristol City 1-0. Their home record stands at 9-2-4 20/18 and they’ve kept six clean sheets so far.
Former Norwich City striker Steve Morison has moved to Leeds to help fill the void left by outgoing Becchio, and he has McCormack, Green and Varney as the most likely to net or create chances in front of goal for Leeds.
Blackpool have recently installed their third manager for this season in the shape of Paul Ince who replaced the former incumbent Michael Appleton in the Bloomfield Road hot-seat, and it’ll be interesting to see how Ince fares at this level despite his previous success at League One outfit MK Dons.
Blackpool have put in some mixed displays of late with wins over Wolves and Millwall but have suffered defeats to Cardiff City, Barnsley and Ipswich Town as they unsurprisingly continue to search for any kind of consistency, and with another new manager in charge they may well have to wait until next season to have a serious tilt at promotion again.
Blackpool’s away record stands at 5-4-7 22/25 and they’ve won just once on their travels in their last six on the road, having kept just two clean sheets away from home all season. An added and unwanted distraction for Ince senior is that his son Tom will no longer be part of his long-term plans come the end of the season, so an element of squad tinkering may be needed as he decides on his best eleven.
Despite losing leading goalscorer Becchio, manager Neil Warnock has his Leeds team playing the way he wants particularly at Elland Road where they are usually hard to beat, and with Blackpool getting used to a fifth manager in charge (this includes two caretaker-manager stints by Steve Thompson) I’ll back the home side for a possible 2-1 win, but take the generously-priced round ball on offer for insurance.
Pick: Leeds United AH0 (Draw No Bet) @ 1.93 bet365