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Will Leeds United's home form cost them promotion?

Friday 12th October 2018

There's an air of excitement around Elland Road at the moment, as Leeds United find themselves as one of the Championship's early pacesetters.

Leeds have been here before. As recently as last season, the Yorkshire club got their campaign off to a great start. After nine games, Thomas Christiansen's side was top of the league but a run of six defeats in seven games began a slide that culminated in Christiansen losing his job and Leeds finishing 13th in the league.

This feels different, though. Last season when Christiansen was appointed, the first thing Leeds fans did was google him to find out who he. While this term, when Marcelo Bielsa was named boss the natural reaction was to check the nearest calendar to make sure it wasn't April Fools Day.

Bielsa is a legendary figure in the world of football. He had success in his home country with both Newells Old Boys and Velez Sarsfield before managing the Argentina national team and later, the Chile national team. He has also had spells in Europe, most notably with Athletic Club and Marseille, so when he ended up moving to the Championship, people instantly sat up and took notice of what was happening at Elland Road. Not only has Bielsa got an impressive CV of his own but he has also influenced a number of other coaches including Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino, Diego Simeone and Jorge Sampaoli. 

The 63-year-old has made an instant impact at the club and they are currently sitting third in the Championship with 23 points from their first 12 games. There have been some outstanding displays and after a horrific run over the last 15 years, it finally feels like there's reason for positivity in Yorkshire.

Whilst the majority of feedback has been positive, the last thing Leeds want is another collapse in the second half of the season. Things aren't perfect so far and the biggest issue looks to be coming in front of their own fans at Elland Road. Of the 23 points Leeds have picked up this season, only 11 of them have come at home. 12 points from their six away games is outstanding but there's room for improvement at home if they are going to go up in one of the two automatic positions. 

Leeds started with three wins from their first three home games in all competitions, but since then they have won just one of their last five at Elland Road. A Carabao Cup defeat to Preston North End was appeased with a league win over the same opposition. However, the other three games saw Leeds lose to Birmingham City, before draws with Middlesbrough and Brentford. Both are games they really should have done better in. 

Arguably the biggest issue Leeds have had has been injuries to their two main forwards, Kemar Roofe and Patrick Bamford. When playing at home, teams will tend to sit deeper and be harder to break down which means that players like the aforementioned duo are missed all the more. To their credit, Leeds have done relatively well to stay in touch while they are injured, but the Championship is an unforgiving place and the teams that go up will have better home records than Leeds currently have. 

For now, the good vibes continue among Leeds fans. Bielsa is the best manager the club has had in years and not only is he getting results but he's doing it in an entertaining style. Leeds fans aren't selfish and at this point, they'd gladly go up playing the worst football ever seen. The away form is promotion winning stuff, the home form has room for improvement but with the wily old Argentine in their corner, they have every chance of finally making a return to the top flight. 

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Gerry Johnston

I am a 33-year-old sports writer from Ireland who enjoys watching European football. My main focus is La Liga, but I do keep a close eye on all of the major leagues throughout the world.


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