With over half the Championship believing they can get into the Premier League next season, most matches can be viewed as battles between promotion rivals, but Leeds United’s trip to Blackpool on Tuesday certainly fits that description and with both sides opening their campaigns with a win, something has to give at Bloomfield Road.
If ‘Pool fans were worried about a play-off hangover, then they really should have known better than to question their manager. Ian Holloway wouldn’t let his players sulk, no matter how grave the disappointment of losing to West Ham at Wembley in May might still be, and a comfortable 2-0 victory against Millwall at the Den was the perfect way to start a season that once again promises to bring about a promotion challenge.
On the tightest of budgets, Holloway has performed a miraculous job at the Tangerines in his three years, taking them to the Premier League against all the odds and very nearly keeping them there against even bigger ones, and his team looks set to go well once more. Keeping hold of Tom Ince and Matt Phillips is crucial, but there is no reason why Blackpool can’t go one better than last year and make the top flight once more.
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I am really sweet on Blackpool this season and want to be with them as often as possible in these opening weeks. I think they have very good chance of going up and I base that on their home form, which I expect to be as sound as it was last year.
Leeds will be harbouring similar ambitions with promotion specialist Neil Warnock at the helm and the Whites have made a good start to their campaign. United’s 1-0 victory over relegated Wolves at Elland Road on Saturday was their second win of the season so far after a comfortable 4-0 success over Shrewsbury in the Capital One Cup and Warnock will again be hoping to take a team up a division, something he has achieved seven times in his long managerial career.
He has his work cut out given Ken Bates’ prudent ownership, but Leeds have a decent squad and have their eyes on the play-offs, which makes the match at Bloomfield an interesting one. Blackpool are the 11/10 favourites, while you can get 11/5 on an away win and slightly bigger odds on the draw (12/5) and I think the bookies have this one about right, because I fancy Holloway’s men to prevail.
Leeds have started well, but their results must be qualified by stating they were both at home and to teams either inferior (League One Shrewsbury) or in disarray (relegated and directionless Wolves). You can’t argue with a 5-0 aggregate scoreline over those games, but I want a bit more evidence Warnock has found a winning blend before I take them at big prices.
Besides, I am really sweet on Blackpool this season and want to be with them as often as possible in these opening weeks. I think they have very good chance of going up and I base that on their home form, which I expect to be as sound as it was last year.
The Seasiders won 13 home games last season (only promoted Reading and Southampton won more) and scored 42 goals, a tally only the Saints could beat. With the squad from last year not only kept together but also augmented, I see no reason why that can’t be the case once more and I think they can get the better of the Yorkshiremen.
Blackpool did just that twice last year, winning 5-0 at Elland Road and 1-0 at home, and a repeat could be on the cards. Leeds won just two of their 12 trips to the other sides in the top half last season and at 11/10, Blackpool are the bet here.
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