Jesse Marsch has vowed Leeds United will “go after the match” when they face fellow strugglers West Ham in their first Premier League game of 2023 on Wednesday.
Leeds earned a creditable draw against Newcastle United last time out, which leaves them two points clear of the relegation zone – as well as 17th-placed West Ham.
The Whites have lost three of their four games against the Hammers since returning to the Premier League in 2020, but Marsch knows the importance of a strong start to the new year.
“I think 2022 has been a difficult year and a big challenge for me, but one I have really enjoyed,” Marsch said.
“I’m really thankful to be at this club, inside the club and inside the team we are really unified, I have said that a lot. We are committed to doing this together.
“It will be a challenge for us but we’re going to come up with a good match plan and go after the match.
“We’re all learning that we have to stay laser focused on every moment, every match and make sure we are prepared to be at our best.”
Friday’s 2-0 reverse to Brentford made it back-to-back defeats for West Ham since the Premier League’s resumption, but boss David Moyes remains upbeat about their prospects of climbing the table.
“The way it’s worked out, we’re not halfway through the season yet. We have to buck up, play better and find a way of winning games, which is key,” he said.
“I think we’ve got a better team now than we’ve had, so it’s a case of showing that.
“The board have been right behind me, which is really good. They’ve been very supportive and backing me.
“I think West Ham supporters have been incredibly supportive. They’ve seen what’s gone on here the last three years and they’re desperate for us to do well.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Leeds United – Brenden Aaronson
No Leeds player has created more chances than Aaronson’s 29 in the Premier League this term, while the United States international has also managed a team-high 160 passes into the final third. If Leeds are to clinch a vital win, his creative skills will be key.
West Ham – Said Benrahma
Benrahma has hit the net three times in the Premier League this campaign – no other West Ham player has scored more than two goals in the competition. The Algeria international is the only Hammers player to score since the Premier League resumed on Boxing Day, and he may carry the attacking burden for the visitors at Elland Road.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Having lost just two of their first 20 Premier League meetings with West Ham between 1993 and 2003 (W14 D4), Leeds United have lost three of their four against the Hammers since their return to the top-flight (W1).
– West Ham have won their last two Premier League games away against Leeds, despite going 1-0 down both times. The only side to win three consecutive Premier League away games against a side despite conceding the first goal each time are Everton, who did so at West Ham in 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15.
– Leeds beat Burnley 3-1 in their first Premier League game of 2022 but haven’t won their opening league match in consecutive calendar years since doing so in 2012 and 2013.
– West Ham have won their opening league match in each of the last three calendar years – they’ve never done so in four in a row before.
– West Ham manager David Moyes has never lost away from home against Leeds United in the Premier League in four previous visits (W3 D1), the joint most of any manager without losing (also John Gregory and Gerry Francis on four). Only Alex Ferguson has ever won more away games at Elland Road in the Premier League (five) than Moyes (three).