The Elland Road cauldron
New head coach or not, the chants in the away corner at Goodison Park last week, followed by the general reaction to that Leeds United performance, mean Elland Road will be an emotional place this afternoon. When you then toss in the small fact today’s opponents are the only club below Leeds in the league table, it’s an occasion which only needs the smallest spark to catch light.
Andrea Radrizzani, unseen for a few weeks, is expected to attend the match alongside Victor Orta and Angus Kinnear, who heard, loud and clear, how the supporters felt last weekend. The directors’ box will need to brace itself for another vocal reaction if things turn south.
A first look at Gracia
Javi Gracia takes to the touchline for the first time as head coach this afternoon. All eyes will be on how he conducts himself during the game.
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Will he be vocal? Will he be animated? Which of his backroom lieutenants will take the lead by his side? How will he adapt to the match as it unfolds?
A league table to decide your week
You were all doing the maths before close of play last Saturday. If Southampton win today, the Whites will fall to the bottom of the Premier League table.
That would be a gut punch to write off your coming week. It’s also a monumental opportunity, against the worst side in the league, to finally end this wait for a win and inject some momentum into the second half of the term.
How many tactical changes?
Gracia was not giving too much away when it came to any tactical talk in yesterday’s press conference. He did, more than once, reiterate how little time there is to rebuild this tactical blueprint from the ground up.
The new boss focused on keeping the players comfortable and at ease with what was being asked of them. It will be fascinating to see what shape Gracia goes with and what changes we can see in the style of play at the first opportunity.
Beyond the tactical setup, we are all in the dark about the medical situation at Leeds. Who’s back from injury? Who’s newly out? We will have to see.
Jack Harrison was one of several players to have a bad afternoon on Merseyside last week. It will be interesting to see which players Gracia opts for in his first match.
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