Goal hungry strikers hold key for Leeds United at Forest

Marcus Antonsson.
Marcus Antonsson.
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The first section of the season comes to an end this Saturday when Leeds United get time to take stock after playing their seventh game in 22 days.

An international break follows the Whites’ trip to Nottingham Forest’s City Ground, with the players having a week off before springing back into action with another seven games in 22 days before the second break.

With the season broken up into some intense periods it can be tough on players and it is hard to maintain form with the matches coming thick and fast.

With little time for training to improve things going wrong it is also hard on managers especially with patience in boardrooms so thin these days and winning records demanded.

But the breaks do give coaching staffs the chance to work with players not on international duty as they can use the extra time wisely on the training ground and this is what United boss Garry Monk will be planning.

After an underwhelming start to his time as Leeds head coach Monk is seeing signs of improvement as the players he has brought in begin to get used to doing what he is asking of them and he and fans will expect to see this improvement bear more fruits after the break coming up.

With such a big turn round of players – Leeds have so far signed 11 players this summer and have promoted a couple of under 19s into the first team squad – it is little wonder they have lacked consistency so far. But that excuse can only be used for a short time longer.

Despite the early problems the Whites can actually climb into the top half of the table if results go right for them this weekend and they can beat Nottingham Forest.

Leeds go into Saturday’s game on the back of three games unbeaten - a slightly fortunate draw against Fulham followed by a deserved 2-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday and a 1-0 EFL Cup win at Luton with a team showing 11 changes - and if they can make it seven points from three league games they will regard it as a solid start despite the defeats in the opening two matches.

The biggest positive is that strikers Chris Wood and Marcus Antonsson have scored five goals between them in the first five matches, including the first round EFL Cup tie at Fleetwood.

It is always important for the forwards to be hitting the target to build their confidence and the duo could be the key at Forest, who have conceded 10 goals in their first four league games.

Early signs are that Forest are playing a more expansive game this season as they have also found the net eight times so will offer some threat to a Leeds backline that kept its first clean sheet last Saturday after themselves conceding eight goals in their first four outings.

Kyle Bartley and Liam Cooper appear to be Monk’s preferred centre-back combination, although the partnership of Sol Bamba and new signing Pontus Jansson did help keep a clean sheet at Luton.

Luke Ayling appears to have settled in quickly at right-back in the absence of the injured Gaetano Berardi while Charlie Taylor has been an ever present so far at left-back despite continue rumours that United would sell him if they can find a replacement in his position.

They also have another youngster waiting in the wings in Tyler Denton, who scored the winner at Luton on his debut at left-back.