Come Saturday, the cobwebs of the two week international break need to be firmly dusted off as the ‘bread-and-butter’ of football returns to the Saturday lives of many up and down the United Kingdom. 18th placed Leeds travel down the M6 to 20th placed Birmingham’s St Andrews Ground in the early 12.15 kick off; a game being shown live on Sky Sports.

Both teams seem to have had a pretty indifferent, yet quite similar start to the season.

Table comparing headline figures of both teams

Goals Conc. Shots Shot Acc Chances Poss. Pass Acc. Avg Def*
Birmingham 4 9 52 37% 40 47% 67% 50
Leeds 3 8 36 34% 31 49% 79% 52

Avg Def* – average defensive actions per game

Birmingham are slightly ahead in the ‘figures race’ largely due to the indifferent, and at times woeful, performance of Leeds’ players in front of goal…when they find their way there. It has been suggested, in some quarters, that Cellino has insisted that the players should add the penalty area of all Championship grounds to their Sat Navs. It’s ‘shooting’ where Leeds fare the worst in the worst in the Championship this season with a grand total of 36 shots being attempted (20 inside/16 outside – accuracy of 34%) – good enough for a 24th ranked placing. Despite being placed as the lowest total shooting team in the Championship (with 36 shots), Leeds aren’t the lowest ranked team when it comes to shots/per goal (SpG); Leeds have a SpG score of 12 (Watford lead the Championship with a figure of 5.6 SpG) but Fulham (despite shelling £11 million on Ross McCormack) have a much lower SpG figure of 25.66 and Rotherham trail in with an SpG figure of 26.5.

What Leeds do trounce Birmingham in is the accuracy of their passing Leeds 79%/Birmingham 67%; with Leeds being ranked as the 7th and 8th best passing side when considering passing % and successful passes; Birmingham return 22nd and 21st rankings in the same categories. With the more youthful and creative midfield of Sloth, Bianchi, Cook and Mowatt, that did so well against Bolton, likely to be broken up with the possible inclusion of Brazilian Samba star Adryan (who impressed in the U21 game against Ipswich) what Leeds’ fans are hoping for is that exuberance of youth is mixed with a more surgical approach to passing that slices defences wide open .All of this means very little unless the Leeds’ midfield ‘step up to the plate’ and become more insightful in the final phase of passing to improve on their sum total of 31 chances created this season (30 ‘chances’ and 1 ‘assist’).

Whatever the manner of the Leeds performance, 3 points is simply a ‘must have’ in their charge away from the relegation dogfight and towards the gloriously sunnier climes of the top 6.

Dear Football God: goals and better passing please.