Leeds United Bring Betting Value in Search for Top-Six Premier League Finish in 2021-22
After surprising the football community with a surprise run to ninth in their first season back in the Premier League, Leeds United will look to continue along their upward trajectory next term.
Manager Marcelo Bielsa appears to have found his dream match at Elland Road after completing three seasons at the same club for the first time in his career, but the best may be yet to come.
‘El Loco’ upset the bookmakers by guiding Leeds to a top-half finish following a 17-year absence from England’s first tier. However, expectations will naturally be higher for the club in 2021-22, and On: Yorkshire Magazine breaks down the best betting odds ahead of the upcoming campaign.
According to William Hill bookmakers are clearly backing Yorkshire’s top team for another run into England’s top 10 as Leeds return at 8/11 odds to again finish among the top half.
It’s a major compliment that price puts them level with West Ham United, who placed sixth under David Moyes last term and were only two points short of qualifying for the Champions League.
Speaking of the race for top six, the more adventurous out there may fancy Bielsa’s workhorses to make a more sustained run at the top six themselves this season, particularly if they can improve their squad during the summer transfer window.
It’s for that reason their 5/1 price to finish sixth or higher look tempting based on what we’ve seen thus far. Leeds defeated Premier League champions Manchester City 2-1 in April despite being reduced to 10 men just before half-time, and that was just one of the club’s more impressive results in their comeback campaign.
The club is already making moves to ensure victories like that become more commonplace, too, with The Times reporting Barcelona defender Junior Firpo is ready to choose Leeds over European titans Inter Milan and AC Milan:
Junior Firpo's touch heat map in his last season as a starter (2018-19 at Betis). #LUFC
Ranked third among La Liga full-backs/wing-backs for combined xG/xA per 90 (0.24), behind Jesús Navas and Marcelo. Only 22 at the start of that season. pic.twitter.com/oued0ldXrl
— Jamie Kemp (@jamiemkemp) June 30, 2021
The Spaniard will represent a potentially substantial upgrade at left-back after Ezgjan Alioski’s contract at Elland Road expired in June, with Leeds wasting little time in their recruitment drive.
As if those top-six odds weren’t tempting enough, those with even loftier sights may feel comfortable backing Bielsa’s men at 12/1 to place among England’s top four teams come May 2022.
Twenty years have passed since the club secured three consecutive top-four finishes between 1999 and 2001, although there’s a significant rebuild to be undertaken before that looks realistic.
Then again, it wasn’t long ago fans would have said the same of Leicester City, who famously won their first Premier League crown in 2016 and have now finished fifth in back-to-back seasons.
Thanks to the hands-on investment of owner Andrea Radrizzani—who bought a controlling stake in the club in May 2017—Leeds can hope for a similar rise to rub elbows alongside the Champions League contenders.
The new Premier League season is scheduled to begin on Saturday, August 14, when Bielsa will take his team to Old Trafford for a showdown against fierce rivals Manchester United.
The Peacocks drew 0-0 against the Red Devils when they last met in April, but the rest of the division will be far more wary of the threat they pose this time around.
Leeds have a pre-season schedule that will see them take on Guiseley (July 27), Blackburn Rovers (July 28) and Fleetwood Town (July 30) prior to then, with only a month or so to go before the Premier League returns.