It has certainly been a difficult second season in the Premier League for Leeds United. Having been promoted to the top flight for the first time in 16 years, the Yorkshire outfit were a breath of fresh air under Marcelo Bielsa, soaring to unimaginable heights and finishing the season in ninth. However, injuries and inconsistency have been real themes of their sophomore year and the threat of relegation is becoming more realistic with each passing loss.
The reality of the situation is that the way Leeds play isn’t sustainable. While they were certainly entertaining, the high pressing and constant running has resulted in an inevitable burn out, and results have been sacrificed in turn for freedom and expression, and in a competitive league like this where points are the currency of success, Bielsa would do well to try and salvage as many as possible between now and the end of the season.
It shouldn’t all be doom and gloom in Elland Road though, fans are back in stadiums and players are finally starting to come back from their injuries, and, at the time of writing, they’ve managed to keep hold of star man Raphininha. Leeds have been frustrating to watch at times, but they still shouldn’t go down. There have been teams far worse in and around the relegation places according to the football odds today. Read on, as we look at the current bottom three and assess why their situation is far more perilous.
It’s really hard to summarise everything wrong with Watford’s managerial merry-go-round. Having been promoted under Francisco ‘Xisco’ Muñoz, the Spaniard endured a difficult start to life in the top flight and was cast a side as soon as results began to nosedive. Claudio Ranieri was the man tasked with orchestrating safety, but after just fourth months in charge, he was sacked and now the Hornets have hired Roy Hodgson — their third manager of the season. Lacking consistency both on and off the pitch, this Watford side clearly possess some talented players, but are failing to replicate the results that won them the Championship last season, and perhaps another stint in the second tier is around the corner sooner than expected.
Despite spending so much money in the January transfer window, Newcastle still have just two wins to their name. The Magpies have invested heavily since appointing Eddie Howe, with Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood and Bruno Guimarães all arriving at St. James’ Park. However, with so many players needing to be integrated and not much time to do it, Newcastle will struggle to recoup points and even if they survive, it will be by the skin of their teeth and cause no real threat to Leeds’ safety pursuit.
A rise in covid cases has meant Burnley have played at least three games less than the rest of the sides in the Premier League — Manchester City playing five more, but regardless it’s not pretty viewing for the Clarets fans. Rooted to bottom of the table, Sean Dyche’s no-nonsense hardworking system has been exposed this season, with the fragilities in Burnley’s backline becoming all the more apparent.
Losing Wood is another massive blow for Dyche, whose side were already struggling to find the back of the net, with just 16 goals so far. It’s difficult to see a situation where Burnley don’t get relegated, but having been stalwarts in the division for the last five years, and Turf Moore a difficult place to visit for opposing teams, there’s always an outside chance they pick up maximum points from their games in hand and pull of a worthy great escape.