Baggies make season’s TV bow at Elland Road

Leeds United v West Bromwich Albion; Elland Road, Friday 18th August 2023, 8pm

Albion travel to West Yorkshire on Friday evening for their first televised fixture of the season, and their first match against one of the teams to have been relegated from the Premier League.

Leeds and Albion were both promoted automatically in the COVID-affected 2019/2020 campaign with both games close encounters; the Whites eventually secured top spot after the Baggies struggled for form after football resumed in the summer of 2020. With more ambitious owners funding the big money signings of Rodrigo and Raphinia amongst others, Bielsa’s team coped well with the Premier League while Bilić didn’t make Christmas and even Allardyce couldn’t save Albion from the drop. Ironically, neither could he save Leeds last season and the West Yorkshire club start a new campaign in the Championship under new owners and a new manager.

Daniel Farke, who won the Championship title twice with Norwich City, has had a few issues to deal with over the summer and he goes into Friday’s game with just one point from their opening two fixtures, a long list of injuries and three want-away players who are refusing to turn out for the side. Helder Costa, Willy Gnonto and Luis Sinisterra have been training on their own having expressed a desire to leave the club while Junior Firpo, Liam Cooper, Patrick Bamford, Crysencio Summerville, Tyler Adams, Stuart Dallas and Mateo Joseph are all injury doubts for the Albion game. Farke has been critical of the previous owners with a number of relegation release clauses in players’ contracts contributing to the exits of thirteen members of last season’s squad. There have been a few incomings, however, including midfielder Ethan Ampadu, son of former Baggie Kwame Ampadu, from Chelsea, goalkeeper Karl Darlow from Newcastle United, full back Sam Byram from Norwich City and a loan move for Spurs centre-back Joe Rodon.

The unsettlement caused by the likes of Gnonto and Sinisterra, plus the long injury list, could mean that it is a good time to play Leeds United. They still have a strong squad and they are likely to be able to add further to it before the window closes; I suspect they will improve quickly. A narrow win over League One Shrewsbury Town is their only positive result this campaign having drawn 2-2 at home to Cardiff City on the opening weekend and lost 1-0 to a last minute penalty at Birmingham City last Saturday. A trip to Elland Road is never easy, but perhaps Corberán’s team can take advantage of the Whites’ out-of-sorts form so far this season.

Not that the Baggies are firing on all cylinders, of course. They looked to be cruising before conceding two late goals against Swansea City last weekend but still managed to claim all three points, and it was encouraging that they managed to score three without a recognised striker in the starting line-up.

Brandon Thomas-Asante remains a doubt for this match – on Thursday, he was in full training for the first time since picking up the ankle injury at Stoke last week, and he will be considered for selection if he came through that unscathed. If he is not fit enough, it seems likely that Matt Phillips will lead the line once again with Josh Maja, who came off the bench in the Swansea game, not yet up to starting.

That will probably have an impact on the choice of formation that Corberán goes for, having switched to a back three last weekend. The left foot of Erik Pieters certainly added balance to the defence on Saturday and both Kipré and Ajayi produced much improved performances. The one player who is not able to play in his preferred position in a 3-4-3 is John Swift who played on the left side of the front three. Although he was involved in all three goals, he never quite looks comfortable when out wide and I do wonder whether Sarmiento may be given a first start at Elland Road. However, should BTA be fit, Corberán may well return to his preferred 4-2-1-3 with Swift as a number ten.

The most concerning aspect of Albion’s play so far this season has been the defence, with sloppy passing in the opening games replaced by an unexpected set piece frailty against Swansea. It is one thing that Corberán and his coaching staff will surely have been working on this week as it could easily have cost Albion two if not three points last weekend. Based on what I saw when watching Leeds against Cardiff on the opening weekend, the Whites are a little short on height in their ranks at the moment given their current injury list, so they may not pose the same challenge as the Swans. Perhaps the switch from a four to a three created some confusion, but if it is a tactical option that Corberán wants to use on occasion, it is a problem that needs solving quickly. We will hopefully see some improvements on Friday night after another week on the training ground.

While Leeds may have looked a little vulnerable so far this season, we all must remember that these players were competing in the Premier League last season and so cannot be underestimated. A point would undoubtedly be a good result, but with a little luck and an improved defensive display, a victory is achievable.


Leeds United were formed in 1919 following the forcible disbandment of Leeds City who had been accused of making illegal payments to players during the First World War. After a season in the Midland League, United were elected to the Football League in 1920 and won promotion to the top flight in 1924.

Albion’s first visit to Elland Road was to play Leeds City in September 1905, but their first match at the venue against United, who bought the stadium in 1920, was on Valentine’s Day 1925 and it was the visitors who came out on top with Joe Carter scoring the only goal of the game. United’s first home win over Albion was in April 1927 – Joe Carter was once again on the scoresheet for the Throstles, but a brace from Tommy Jennings and another from Russell Wainscoat saw the hosts win 3-1.

Between February 1948 and November 1964, the Baggies were unbeaten at Elland Road winning three and drawing two of five visits, albeit the clubs spent much of that time in separate divisions. That period included Albion’s record away win against the Whites, a 4-1 win in February 1960. A brace from David Burnside and further goals from the two Dereks, Hogg and Kevan, put the visitors 4-0 up before a late penalty from Johnny McCole for the hosts.

Leeds’ biggest home win over Albion was in the fourth round of the FA Cup in February 1967 when Don Revie’s team won 5-0 thanks to a brace apiece from Peter Lorimer and Rod Belfitt and another from Paul Madeley. In the league, their best result at Elland Road was also in the Revie era three years later – Eddie Gray and Mick Jones gave the hosts a 2-0 lead before Jeff Astle pulled one back for Albion. Future Baggie, John Giles made it 3-1 before half time and, after the break, Peter Lorimer made it 4-1 before Giles added his second to make the final score 5-1.

The Baggies are currently on a five match winless run against Leeds including 4-0, 1-0 and 3-1 defeats in their last three visits to Elland Road. Not since January. 2007 have Albion tasted victory in that particular corner of West Yorkshire – a fortnight after knocking Leeds out of the FA Cup at the Hawthorns, Tony Mowbray’s side had just started an unbeaten run that would see them move to the top of the table in late February. It didn’t start well at Elland Road, however, as Tore André Flo gave Dennis Wise’s team a third minute lead, but the visitors were soon on terms when Jonathan Greening fired in from 20 yards after Neil Clement’s free kick had been blocked. Inside 20 minutes, the Baggies were ahead after Diomansay Kamara held off a challenge from Hayden Foxe to fire home from Gera’s through ball. ‘Joe’ scored his second to make it 3-1 just before half time as he curled in a beauty into the top corner from outside the box. Alan Thompson reduced the arrears for United in the second half, but Mowbray’s team held on to take all three points.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion L W L L L W
Leeds United D L L D W L

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

23 May 2021 – Premier League
Leeds United 3 (Rodrigo, Phillips, Bamford (pen))
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Robson-Kanu)

Last win

10 Nov 2018 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 4 (Robson-Kanu, Phillips, Barnes, Gayle)
Leeds United 1 (Hernández)

Last win at Leeds United

20 Jan 2007 – League Championship
Leeds United 2 (Flo, Thompson)
West Bromwich Albion 3 (Greening, Kamara (2))

Albion’s Record against Leeds United

  Overall   Away
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 80 29 16 35 109 126   40 9 10 21 41 71
FA Cup 6 3 1 2 10 12   3 0 1 2 3 10
League Cup 4 1 2 1 4 3   3 1 1 1 4 3
Total 90 33 19 38 123 141   46 10 12 24 48 84

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