Boro Battle Already Looks Key for Leeds United in Promotion Push Mark August 15, 2018 Leeds United 2 Comments The new season has only really just begun, but Leeds United under unorthodox Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa have already laid down a serious marker with emphatic victories over Championship promotion rivals Stoke City and Derby County. Bookmakers have reacted to the Whites’ terrific start to the campaign by installing them as the new second tier title favourites and to end their 15-year exodus from the Premier League by going up this term. While Bielsa’s boys must take a tricky trip to Swansea City in on route, Leeds meet Middlesbrough at Elland Road in the same week that bitter rivals Manchester United have their first real top flight test against fellow Champions League club Tottenham Hotspur. Any true Whites supporter will lay odds on Man Utd to win league 2019 on the Betfair Exchange such is the strength of that rivalry, but also have cause for cautious optimism in West Yorkshire after so many false dawns. If (unlike last season) they don’t run out of steam, Leeds’ breathless start certainly has the potential to propel them back into the big time. An early acid test of their credentials comes in game number six of the Championship campaign on Friday, 31 August when Boro – their closest challengers in the outright betting and promotion picture – come down from Teesside. Like Bielsa, Tony Pulis is a wily veteran who established a dynasty at Stoke that declined when he left. Middlesbrough have won just one match in seven attempts at Elland Road back in August 2011, losing four of six since, so home advantage could be key for the Whites. While the expansive football Leeds are now playing isn’t really conducive to keeping clean sheets, having conceded in their first three matches in league and cup this term, Pulis is a stickler for defensive discipline with two shut-outs in their four outings across all competitions so far. Another fascinating subplot besides this clash of styles is the difference between these two sides when they last met – one Patrick Bamford – has left Boro for the Whites. He hit a hat-trick when they faced off in March at The Riverside, yet was sold in a deal that could be worth £10,000,000. That will be money well spent if Leeds go up at Boro’s expense and a rare error of judgment on the part of Pulis and Steve Gibson – widely considered one of the best chairmen in English football to work for. Bamford isn’t the only one with links to Middlesbrough in Bielsa’s squad either. Darlington born Whites number one Bailey Peacock-Farrell spent several years in the youth setup at The Riverside, while midfield duo Adam Forshaw and Lewis Baker – on loan from Chelsea – were teammates of Bamford’s there last season. With 40 league games left after their home meeting with Middlesbrough, anything can still happen to the Whites and win, lose or draw it’s bound to be a roller-coaster ride for fans. It’s too early to call it a title decider, but you can’t help feel there’s wider significance to the result which could be a springboard to long-overdue success at Leeds.