Weblog: The football punter

Boro defence should offer up chances to Leeds

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The Beast from the East's wintry grip over the country has been so tight that even last night's Premier League darts, an event held indoors, bit the dust.

So given the amount of snowfall in the north east of England over the past few days, it is somewhat surprising that as of Thursday night Middlesbrough's televised clash with Leeds has been given the go-ahead.

Staff at the Riverside worked relentlessly to clear the snow-covered pitch and with undersoil heating at the ground, both sides should have few complaints about the playing surface if the game survives further snow forecast today.

Despite the disruption Boro boss Tony Pulis has said his side's preparation has been "business as usual" as they aim to narrow the three-point gap to the top six.

Boro have won six of their last ten Sky Bet Championship games on home soil with their three defeats in that time coming against top-five sides Derby, Aston Villa and Fulham.

The hosts are boosted by the availability of tricky winger Adama Traore for Leeds's visit after his red card in Saturday's 3-3 draw with Sunderland was overturned by the FA but Rudy Gestede is out and captain Grant Leadbitter remains doubtful.

A characteristic of Pulis sides is their resolute nature but Boro have kept just one clean sheet in 15 outings in all competitions which should give Leeds hope of breaching their backline.

The Whites claimed their first win under new manager Paul Heckingbottom - a 1-0 success over Brentford - at the weekend and have troubled promotion-chasers Sheffield United, Bristol City and Derby since the former Barnsley boss took charge.

They have looked far more threatening since playmaker Samuel Saiz returned from suspension in the draw at Derby and should at least get on the scoresheet at the Riverside.

Leeds to score a goal

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Match in Focus

13:30 TODAY

Brighton v Chelsea

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Brighton have scored in eight of their last nine games
Expert verdict
Brighton have carried their formidable home form into the new season, losing just once at the Amex in the league this term. They beat Crystal Palace there most recently and can hold Chelsea, who stunned Manchester City last week but have lost back-to-back away games at Tottenham and Wolves.