By Craig Jones, June 18, 2020
There are few clubs in the country that can divide opinions as much as Leeds United. Almost everyone has their view on the West Yorkshire club and if you ask their fans they would not have it any other way.
Famed for their outstanding support at home, and even more so away, this is a club that loves to be in the limelight and the one everyone is talking about.
As the Championship resumes this weekend, Leeds are in pole position for promotion to the Premier League.
After 15 seasons outside the top-flight, including last year’s playoff semi-final heartbreak, Leeds go into the restart top of the league, a point ahead of West Brom and seven points above Fulham in the playoff positions.
Will they finally get over the line? Or will they create another moment in history where they are the talking point due to failure?
Nine games stand between the club and the Premier League. Four of those come at home to clubs struggling at the bottom of the table, and another home game is against Fulham, likely the only team capable of catching and stopping Leeds.
Here are the Leeds United remaining fixtures in full
As far as a run in goes, Leeds will happily take that. The away games are all difficult, with each one of their four opponents currently having a shot at the playoffs.
However, the five home games offer great chances to pick up points.
Fulham is a real six pointer, and with the first meeting going the way of Fulham by a score of 2-1 in December, Leeds would love revenge. Fulham are the main danger in terms of promotion, priced up at 8/1 with BetVictor to finish in the top two, that game on June 27 is going to be huge.
As for the other four home games, Charlton shocked Leeds 1-0 in September, but the other three opponents, Stoke, Barnsley and Luton, resulted in comfortable wins earlier this season.
Every club will struggle without fans cheering them on, but those involved in big games with a lot at stake are going to suffer more.
The five home games Leeds have to play would have all been sell out crowds. Four against relegation strugglers where they are expected to win, and a huge game against third placed Fulham.
You can only imagine what kind of atmosphere would have been inside Elland Road for those games.
The home ground of Leeds United can be a very daunting place to play, with three teams going there and winning this season, Swansea, Sheffield Wednesday and Wigan.
What those teams all did was keep Leeds off the scoresheet. Leeds have actually scored more goals away from home than at home so far, with 26 at home and 30 away.
Will Leeds suffer from a lack of fans pushing them forward? Or will the relaxed atmosphere help them play without pressure?
Leeds are brilliantly coached by Bielsa. He has drilled a defensive structure into the team that has given them the toughest defensive record in the Championship.
You wouldn’t call them a defensive minded team, but everyone has a defensive role to play and collectively that brings together something very impressive indeed.
We often talk about the attacking players this club has, but it is those at the back that are pushing the team forward.
Prior to the break, Leeds won their last five games and they kept a clean sheet in every single one.
Goalkeeper Kiko Casilla has his own risky style that has cost Leeds goals in the past, but he seems to have matured this season, and is mainly dependable. However, in front of him is where Leeds really shine, and that wasn’t assured after changed last summer to their defence.
The Yorkshire club lost Pontus Jansson to Brentford last summer in what was a big blow but Ben White, on loan from Brighton, has come in and done even better. White’s relationship with fellow centre half Liam Cooper has been evident all season.
Kalvin Phillips sits in and does the dirty work in front of the defence, stopping much of the play before the likes of White and Cooper have to get involved.
So, to score past Leeds you have three barriers to break down, all of which are fantastic at their job and some of the best in the Championship. This is why Leeds are where they are right now.
Just 13 goals have been scored past Leeds at Elland Road this season, while they have conceded 17 away from home. 30 conceded from 37 games played is impressive regardless of the league you play in.