A 2-0 away win for Leeds United against Huddersfield Town last Saturday kept the Peacocks in close contention for automatic promotion to the Premiership at the end of the season. It’s been 16 years since United last played in the top league and after finishing third in last season’s final Championship table, they look as if they are on the brink of re-entry.
Of course, it is still early days for any type of prediction and there can be many a slip twixt cup and lip, so manager, Marcelo Bielsa will not be counting his chickens before they hatch. The festive season is a tough time in any season, and it is often a make or break in terms of lining up for promotion and playoff places.
This year is no exception. Having already played away to Huddersfield, Leeds will face Hull, Cardiff and Preston at Elland Road and have away games scheduled with Fulham, and Birmingham. The toughest fixtures on paper are 7th, and 8th placed in Cardiff and Preston.
But it’s New Years’ day when they will have their biggest challenge. They face the Baggies at the Hawthorns. If they want to secure automatic promotion, this is a must-win fixture. Based on statistics though, Leeds should do better than most. They are second in the list of clubs taking most points in December with an average tally of 1.86 per game. Derby are first on 2.17 points per match.
Of course, stats don’t necessarily prove anything when the chips are down. Current league leaders West Brom only averaged 1.13. With their form so far this year, they are set to smash that particular statistic.
The Albion are notching up goals faster than anyone in the Championship this season. They are currently on 41 as opposed to Leeds 30. Their goals-against record is not so good though as they have conceived a total of 20.
Whereas this doesn’t look bad against the rest of the teams in the Championship, the Peacocks have only conceded 10. But just imagine what it would mean to Leeds if they were to secure the services of someone like Hull City’s Jarrod Bowen.
Twenty-two-year-old Bowen, who plays on the wing for the Tigers, is the Championship’s second top scorer at the moment with 14 goals and four assists. He is just one goal behind top scorer, Aleksandar Mitrovic of Fulham, although the Serbian born striker has only registered one assist. Add his goal-scoring prowess to Leeds’ weaponry, and it could seal that automatic promotion place.
It’s not the first time that Bowen’s name has been linked with a move to Elland Road. However, if the Whites are serious about landing Bowen, they face stiff opposition from a number of Premiership clubs who are also said to be interested in the forward. He is thought to be valued at £20 million; a bargain if he continues his current run of form.
Leeds fans will have a chance to get a closer look at this potential signing when he takes the field for tonight’s home game against Hull. But as much as they might relish the prospect of Bowen joining Leeds’ ranks, they will be hoping he can be kept quiet tonight.