Revealed: The big Leeds United weakness Middlesbrough will be targeting
Set-pieces could be the key as Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate searches for a lifeline against old club Leeds United in the Championship on Saturday.
Boro’s visit to West Yorkshire will see Woodgate return to where his senior career started, but is a battle against the odds - not least in bucking the Teessiders’ stretch of six winless games at Elland Road.
The fledgling manager is also still looking for his maiden Championship victory away from home, and his first league win anywhere in 10 games.
But Leeds DO have a key weakness that Boro could look to exploit - at set pieces.
Although the Whites have generally looked solid this season in open play, they have conceded four goals from corners this season.
For all their ball-playing ability, Marco Bielsa’ centre-back duo of Ben White and Liam Cooper have lacked the imposing ariel presence that Pontus Jansson - now at Brentford - provided.
Also less than intimidating for Boro is Leeds’ frequent struggle to create many chances in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with their two attacking midfielders not always effective, and Bielsa’s side boasting the worst attacking record of the Championship’s top four.
Leeds’ key men:
Even at 34, the fans’ favourite is capable of creating something out of nothing and has two goals and two assists in 11 appearances this season.
But Spanish playmaker Hernandez can also be a passenger at times, and is still finding his way back to full fitness after a six-game lay-off due to back-to-back calf and hamstring injuries.
Ever the enigma, the Boro old boy found himself facing flak from fans earlier in the season amid a poor run in front of goal.
But the striker has recently found the type of hot streak he was known for on Teesside, bagging goals in Leeds’ wins against Luton and Blackburn to bring his season tally to six.
Drawing two blanks against Boro last season should also give Bamford reason to put a shift in on Saturday.
The Wolves loanee has not quite hit the ground running at Elland Road this season, with just one Championship assist to show.
But the winger, 25, has shown flashes of his ability, and his blistering pace could prove a key threat - especially if Boro allow him space out wide by sticking to a 3-5-2 formation in the absence of suspended wing-back Marvin Johnson.