The Leeds United Premier League Journey Thus Far
After a sixteen-year absence from the Premier League, Leeds United fought their back into topflight football during the 2019/2020 English Championship season. A promising start to the English Premier League 2020/2021 is slowly turning sour, but can Marcelo Bielsa manage his team through a challenging winter schedule?
The opening day saw Leeds welcomed into the EPL by the reigning champions Liverpool. Although Bielsa’s squad took a defeat, a 4-3 scoreline would suggest that Leeds were not the walkover that Liverpool may have expected.
Three points claimed over Fulham, Aston Villa, Sheffield United and a one-point draw versus Manchester City was a significant confidence boost but the month of November has taken a turn for the worse. Two back to back defeats of a 4-1 scoreline to Crystal Palace and Leicester City respectively has shown the cracks at the back.
💬 Marcelo gives his verdict on our clash at Selhurst Park pic.twitter.com/ruTKi2YtJS
— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 7, 2020
The international break has paused domestic action until the 22nd of November, but on their return, Arsenal and Everton will be on the horizon. Leeds exiting the month of November with four losses would be a huge step back, and somewhat of a reality check. From their previous two games, conceding eight goals while only scoring two should be a concern against well-seasoned EPL squads in Arsenal and Everton.
The mentality of a newly promoted squad should not be affected with just four defeats, especially as Leeds United are used to falling short and rebuilding. Marcelo Bielsa has actively set his sights on new talent from the transfer market, something I believe the club should have sorted in the previous transfer window. Better late than never, because the offensive open play of Leeds United requires a defensive outfit to match.
Survival is the Goal
Walking into the Premier League and expecting to conquer the division isn’t a reality; nobody knows this more than Marcelo Bielsa himself. The expectations will remain high, but the understanding of club development in effect while this season’s priority should be nothing other than to survive.
The good news is, Leeds United have already won three games opposite their four losses. A minimal ten wins this season should be enough to secure them a position in the Premier League next term.
Leeds United forward Rodrigo admitted that survival is critical during their first season back:
“It is a special moment for everyone here in Leeds, in the city, at the club and of course, for the players. We knew the responsibility to make a good season, to maintain Leeds at the top of the league, and try to do our best for the club.” He told the press.
“We need to play each game as the last one, and we will see. For a team coming from the second division, the first objective is always to maintain the category. But we know in football, we never know in this league.”
“We have shown that we have the level to compete against everyone here. We played particularly good games against Liverpool and Manchester City. And we need to keep showing that we have the level to stay in the Premier League.” He added.
If this morale is anything to go by, Leeds united already know their place this season. The two losses could be the wake-up call they needed heading into a shark-infested schedule. After Everton and Arsenal, West Ham, Newcastle, Manchester United, and Chelsea will be looking to take three points from the newly appointed EPL side – I have a feeling Marcelo Bielsa could have something to say about that.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 10, 2020
The Bookmakers Opinion
Leeds are still heavily favoured to remain in the Premier League, and SBR’s top betting sites have odds at 1.06 for Leeds to stay in the Premier League – these odds give an implied probability that Leeds has a 94.3% chance of survival.
If you are looking to invest, this market won’t be for you but giving Leeds a chance of survival but in the bottom half of the table offers a slightly higher value at 1.63.
Leeds will welcome the Gunners in their next fixture, interesting to know that Aston Villa just defeated Arsenal 3-0, and Leeds defeated Aston Villa 3-0.