Can Leeds hold their nerve to reach Wembley?
Leeds United hold a 1-0 first-leg advantage over Derby County after an excellent performance at Pride Park (and a 7-1 aggregate lead over the course of the season), and Marcelo Bielsa will be desperate to finish the job at Elland Road – condemning Frank Lampard to a crushingly disappointing end to the season.
The rivalry between these two has entertained us for months now, and Leeds fans would love for their side to be the ones sentencing Derby to yet another season in The Championship.
But can Derby recover from their first-leg deficit? Kemar Roofe’s injury is yet another blow for Leeds—who have been plagued by player absences all season—meaning the inconsistent Patrick Bamford will line up as Bielsa’s centre-forward; a much less dangerous prospect than Roofe.
The Rams’ primary hitman Martyn Waghorn is also set to miss out once again, and this ingrained inability to deliver at this stage of the season is why I simply cannot see Derby turning this tie around.
One win in 10 away games isn’t a particularly daunting record to head into this match with, and though Leeds haven’t exactly convinced on a regular basis since the turn of the year, I expect them to keep Derby at arm’s length for the 90 minutes.
I don’t think it’ll be particularly explosive, but after seeing their display in the first-leg, it’s clear the meek, misfiring Leeds side we saw at the tail-end of the regular season is no longer; my Best Bet is for a Leeds win and under 3.5 goals.