West Ham United vs Leeds United
Venue: London Stadium
Referee: Mike Dean
West Ham United will look to continue their push for Champions League qualification on Sunday afternoon against a Leeds United side who are languishing towards the bottom of the Premier League table.
The sides met just one week ago in the third round of the FA Cup and David Moyes will be looking for a repeat performance after a 2-0 victory sent the Hammers through. The East London outfit followed this up with another comfortable 2-0 win over Norwich, this time in the league, after the superb Jarrod Bowen bagged twice. After winning just one out of seven in the league between 20th November and Boxing Day, the Irons’ dreams of a top four finish seem unlikely. However, three successive wins against Watford, Crystal Palace and Norwich has reignited their charge for what would be their first ever Champions League qualification in the Premier League era. With Manchester United drawing on Saturday evening against Aston Villa and the North London Derby between Spurs and Arsenal being postponed, Sunday’s fixture against Leeds gives West Ham the ideal opportunity to strengthen their grip on a top four spot.
Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa on the other hand have slightly different ambitions for this campaign. After suffering from second season syndrome, the West Yorkshire club find themselves in 16th position and struggling to string together a positive run of results. While there are certainly poorer sides in the league than the Whites, Bielsa will be keen to put consecutive wins together to fully pull themselves out of danger and so they can start looking up the league table rather than down.
And the omens do not look too good for Bielsa and his charges, with Leeds having lost their last four encounters against the Hammers in all competitions. A point would be a good result for the visitors on Sunday afternoon before a huge match against Newcastle which could provide Leeds supporters with some much needed relief.
The hosts will be missing long-term absentees Kurt Zouma, Ryan Fredericks and Angelo Ogbonna through injury, while one of their stars of the season in Said Benrahma will also be missing due to his AFCON participation. Tomas Soucek could return after missing the midweek win against Norwich due to a positive Covid test. Should the Czech midfielder not feature, Mark Noble could step in. Pablo Fornals, Michail Antonio and Bowen will lead the line for the Irons.
Leeds’ injury problems this campaign have been well documented, with the likes of Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips, Tyler Roberts and Joe Gelhardt all missing out. Diego Llorente is also out due to suspension. There is some room for positives for Leeds, as Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo should be available after recent setbacks.
Predicted Starting XIs
West Ham: Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Lanzini, Fornals, Bowen; Antonio.
Leeds: Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Koch, Firpo; Forshaw, Klich; Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison; Bamford.
Score Prediction: West Ham 2-0 Leeds
Given the form of both sides, it’s hard to bet against a repeat of the FA Cup result last weekend. West Ham look strong at the moment and with their very well settled starting XI are proving to be a very difficult team to beat. Leeds meanwhile are in disarray, with a seemingly different starting team every week due to a multitude of injury, suspension or Covid-related issues.