elland road

Narrow escape once again or relegation for Leeds United?

Leeds United survived relegation back to Championship by the skin of their teeth last season, beating Brentford 2-1 thanks to goals from Jack Harrison and Raphinha on the final day of the campaign to sink Burnley to the second tier of English football at their expense.

As we approach the thrilling conclusion of the 2022/23 season, the Yorkshire side find themselves in danger of the drop once again.

Leeds are second bottom in the table and heavy defeats to Crystal Palace (5-1), Liverpool (6-1) and Bournemouth (4-1) made history as the Whites shipped a record 23 goals in April.

The thrashing at the hands of Jurgen Klopp’s out-of-form Reds was particularly bleak.

Not only was it their second big defeat in a row in front of their own fans following the aforementioned loss to Palace, but it was also a harsh reminder of their shortcomings off the pitch.

The Leeds hierarchy tried desperately to sign Cody Gakpo in the summer transfer window, but couldn’t complete the switch.

By the time the winter window came around the ship had sailed and Liverpool would become the proud owners of the young Dutchman, who just so happened to start the rut in Yorkshire.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Gakpo would have made a huge difference in a Leeds shirt this season.

But it’s fitting to their dire campaign that he has come back to haunt them after they failed to get the deal over the line in the summer.

The reality is that Leeds are much worse off at this stage of the season than they were last year, with just seven wins, nine draws and 19 defeats at the time of writing.

There was hope when Javi Garcia was first appointed to replace Jesse Marsch, with two wins, a draw and a defeat in his first four games in charge helping boost their chances of staying up in the English Premier League odds.

But aside from an albeit potentially crucial win over fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest at the beginning of April, Leeds are in a state of disarray with those defeats.

They are now on their fourth manager of the season after desperately appointing Sam Allardyce.

Worryingly for Leeds, the teams around them are starting to pick up what could prove to be very important points.

Nottingham Forest have beat both Brighton (3-1) and Southampton (4-3) at the City Ground and were unlucky not to get anything from the defeat against Liverpool and Brentford either side.

Meanwhile, Everton have drawn two and won one of their last four to pull themselves out of the relegation zone and are two points clear of Leicester City.

Leeds’ run-in isn’t favourable either, as they also host top four contenders Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at Elland Road in their final three games of the season.

When you factor in that their other game is against fellow relegation scrappers West Ham United at the London Stadium, there’s something for the opposition to play for in all three games.

After what we have seen from Leeds against Palace, Arsenal and Liverpool it’s fair to say Newcastle and Spurs will all be capable of similar results.

Damage control in terms of goal difference and a win against West Ham is, therefore, a must for relegation specialist Allardyce.

Leeds will not want to go into that final game against Tottenham needing a win like last year, but it’s looking increasingly likely that they will.

Featured image credit: Dom Fellowes via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY 2.5 licence

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