So Far, So Good for Leeds United Back in the Premier League!
Lighting up the Premier League!
After 16 years out of England’s topflight, Leeds United finally made their anticipated return for the 2020/21 season. At the start of the season, bookies had tipped Leeds to survive the dreaded relegation, but so far it has been a season far beyond the hopes of just survival for the Leeds faithful. As things stand, Leeds sit in 11th place with 32 points, a very respectable return at this stage. The sight of a wise man by the name of Marcelo Bielsa sat on a bucket in the dugout, leading a solid possession-styled team that excites the neutrals, has given Leeds fans a lot of optimism for continued success in the Premier League and in this new era. Leeds are certainly unpredictable this season, with even experienced punters avoiding betting on the outcome, luckily the bookie welcome bonuses OLBG.com lists here can give you a bit of security if you are feeling confident of 3 points for Bielsa’s men.
Rise, fall, and rise again
Football is full of stories showing the rise and fall of a club. Leeds United rose to become a giant of English football with a history of being a first-tier side, even claiming three first division titles. They began the Premier League era still as one of England’s top sides, and whilst managed by George Graham, and then David O’Leary saw the side finish regularly in the top 5 along with qualifying for the Champions League and UEFA Cup. Their best run in the Champions League for this era saw them reach the 2001 semi-finals. The club then descended into financial troubles that saw an exodus of their top players in order to cover their debts and sadly saw the once fierce Leeds United drop down the leagues over the next years until hitting League One. After a long rebuild, the club got back into the Championship in the 2010 season and after some more rebuilding and a controversial 3 year ownership period, things began to take a turn for the better with the takeover of the current club owner, Andrea Radrizzani. The club appointed the celebrated Marcelo Bielsa as head coach on 15th June 2018, and they’ve never looked back. Bielsa brought with him a hard pressing, possession-based counter-attacking style that electrified Elland Road and after a near-miss in his first season, the club bounced back and took the league by storm in the next season. This sealed a long and historic wait for Leeds United, once a giant of the English game and fallen from grace, had risen back into the big time.
Looking at the season so far, many Leeds fans would have taken 10th place by this point, even ahead of Arsenal. For the neutral fan, Leeds has been an exciting team to watch thanks to their style of play, high-scoring games, and ability to take points from big must-win games. Some notable victories against Leicester City (3–1), West Brom (5–0), and Newcastle (5–2), along with the positives of scoring 3 goals against defending champions Liverpool at Anfield at the start of the season despite the loss (4–3). Possession football is considered as one of the top styles and produces successful teams. If we think about the recent past, obviously Guardiola’s teams, particularly the Barcelona team are remembered, but in the Premier League, this style has produced success even for the teams outside of the top 6. Swansea who reached Europe a few years back were admired for their style of play. Looking at the stats for this season, one that stands out is the domination of possession by Leeds, hitting a peak of 74% during their game against West Brom (5–0). The ability to keep the ball has definitely contributed in part to their success so far this season.
Another reason for their success could be explained by their player recruitment. There have been many teams previously who have splashed the cash on many big names and ultimately changed the spirit and chemistry of the players, QPR and Fulham are two examples of this. For viewers of the Amazon Prime documentary ‘Take Us Home: Leeds United’, it shows that the atmosphere in the dressing room is passionate and the team bond is strong. Most of Leeds transfers at the beginning of the season were bringing loan players back to the club such as Jack Harrison and Helder Costa. This has allowed the club to carry over their performances into the Premier League with an added boost of those extra signings, represented by Liam Cooper leading the team as their captain this season.
Whilst this season has been successful so far, but the infamous 2nd season back in the Premier League has often proven to be a difficult one for many clubs, just look at Sheffield United this season. At the same time, why wouldn’t Leeds go onto building on this success even further? New players will see the club as an attractive destination, both to live in the city but also to play under a coach like Bielsa. Let’s wait to see what happens…
Keep an eye on Leeds United
Leeds has no certainty about its future as an established Premier League club yet, and while the club sits in 10th place currently, there’s still a lot to play for. With games against fellow mid-table teams and some big clashes with the top 6, Leeds, if any team, could pull off a surprising win and put a smile on the face of Leeds fan