Mark Lawrenson has claimed in his BBC Sport column that Leeds United will secure all three points against West Ham United on Friday evening at Elland Road. However, the veteran pundit had some strange comments to make on Leeds favourite and goalkeeper Illan Meslier.
The Whites come into the match having won just once in their last five games – losing to Leicester, Palace and Chelsea, drawing with Arsenal and winning against Everton. Nevertheless, they have impressed at times and find themselves in 14th place on 14 points from 11 games.
West Ham have been in much better form of late, with David Moyes getting the best out of his players. Prior to Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester United – in which they took the lead – the Hammers had won three on the bounce, all resulting in 1-0 wins. Strong on the counter but defensively solid, Leeds could have their work cut out.
But Lawrenson does not think so. He has backed Leeds to beat West Ham and earn a clean sheet with a 2-0 win. However, the Liverpool legend has some strange criticism for one of Leeds’ best players this season in goalkeeper Illan Meslier – who has provided save after save at important times, against the likes of Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka and Abdoulaye Doucoure.
“Leeds have got a little bit of a soft centre defensively, and I am not convinced by their goalkeeper, Illan Meslier, but going forward they are just relentless,” Lawrenson told his BBC Sport column.
“I can’t see any result here other than a Leeds win. It is difficult to dislike their manager, Marcelo Bielsa, and Leeds will have too much for West Ham, with the buzz and momentum they have got at the moment. 2-0.”
West Ham will be without star striker Michail Antonio who continues to overcome a muscle injury but have been able to welcome back right-back Ryan Fredericks for the match – though Vladimir Coufal is expected to start over him. Andriy Yarmolenko is also expected to be fit.
Bielsa, meanwhile, has taken the unusual route of naming his side more than 48 hours before the match. The only change he has made will be an enforced one – bringing Rodrigo in to replace Robin Koch, with both Koch and Diego Llorente picking up injuries against Chelsea. Either Luke Ayling or Kalvin Phillips will play at centre-back.