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Leeds could make it five out of five under Bielsa

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It was supposed to be the job no one could hack yet Marcelo Bielsa has made managing Leeds look like child’s play and he can continue the stunning start to his reign by making it five wins out of five at Swansea.

Taking charge of Leeds has pretty much guaranteed a short cut to the dole office - Bielsa is the 11th different manager at Elland Road in the last five-and-a-half years - but the only route on the Argentinian's radar is the upward step to the Premier League.

His side have demonstrated they’re up to the challenge with comfortable successes against Stoke, Derby and Rotherham – sandwiching a League Cup triumph over Bolton – and on all the evidence they have to be worth a punt at the Liberty Stadium.

One Swansea journalist has dubbed it “a miracle” that Graham Potter’s men have seven points from their first three games having ridden an unbelievable amount of luck, but that good fortune has to end at some stage and Leeds look ideally equipped to do what Sheffield United, Preston and Birmingham failed to manage against the Welshmen.

Swansea welcome Leeds following a pair of poor halves against the Blades and North End and an abject 90 minutes against Birmingham.

Like Leeds, the relegated side are learning to adapt to life under a new boss. Potter is trying to introduce a new mindset, a new philosophy, and it is very definitely work in progress.

At Birmingham, for example, they passed the ball around in their own half nicely enough at times, but didn’t manage a single shot on target. The Blues pressed and harried them and anything like an in-their-face approach seems to be more than the Swans can handle.

Despite gaining seven points they were hanging on against Preston and Birmingham and don't look promotion contenders; not yet anyway. Swansea have managed 3.6 shots on target per game, while Leeds are going at 6.3.

Bielsa’s men may be the away side but they will know – and the manager is nothing if not meticulous – that if they go hard at the hosts they will open them up.

And Leeds look to be positive. Take West Brom out of the equation (the Baggies have played four games) and Leeds are the Championship’s top scorers with nine goals including four at Derby on their one road trip.

It’s notionally a four-man defence but with Kalvin Phillips effectively making it a five, full-backs Luke Ayling and Barry Douglas are a constant source of menace down either flank and they will come at Swansea from out wide.

Having said that and despite being short of defensive options, Swansea can defend, sometimes fortuitously, but they aren’t getting rolled over. The 10-11 about over 2.5 goals looks short – Swansea’s last seven competitive matches have produced only ten goals.


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Match in Focus


Ireland v N Ireland

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Ireland have two clean sheets in nine home games
Expert verdict
This will be a friendly in name only and looks set to conjure up goals in the first Irish derby since 2011. Both sides are out of form and bottom of their Nations League groups but will be motivated to perform under the lights of the Aviva Stadium. The return of Kyle Lafferty should be a big boost for the visitors.