A look at the maths with unpredictable weekend leaving Leeds United and West Brom's cushions delicate

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LEEDS United could have been 13 points clear in the automatic promotion places after this coming weekend yet the delicacy of the situation means the gap could instead be four.

Marcelo Bielsa's Whites would still have been some way from being home and hosed in their automatic promotion quest had they taken all three points upon Sunday's return to action at Cardiff City.

Nonetheless, a victory would have given United even more breathing space ahead of THE game that stood out like a sore thumb when assessing the final nine games - Fulham at home.

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But in a plot twist, the Cottagers are now not even rated the most likely threat to Leeds and West Brom in the automatic promotion race despite still sitting third.

DESPAIR: Winger Jack Harrison shows his frustration as another Leeds United chance goes begging in Sunday's 2-0 loss at Cardiff City. Picture by David Davies/PA Wire.DESPAIR: Winger Jack Harrison shows his frustration as another Leeds United chance goes begging in Sunday's 2-0 loss at Cardiff City. Picture by David Davies/PA Wire.
DESPAIR: Winger Jack Harrison shows his frustration as another Leeds United chance goes begging in Sunday's 2-0 loss at Cardiff City. Picture by David Davies/PA Wire.

Instead, fourth-placed Brentford are actually considerably shorter in the betting market for a top-two finish at a best-priced 5-1 when Fulham are available at 14s.

That would appear strange considering the fourth-placed Bees are still one point behind the third-placed Cottagers but the momentum is now with Thomas Frank's side who were the only team in the top four to record a victory in the Championship's first weekend back - at Fulham.

Bees boss Frank more or less admitted in his post-match interview after his side's success at Craven Cottage that his team's automatic promotion bid would have been basically over had they not taken all three points at Fulham.

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Instead, the Bees are now hot on Fulham's heels and the current eight-point gap between Brentford and the top two could now quickly be slashed to five points considering that Frank's side take on West Brom in their very next game at Griffin Park on Friday night.

An eight-point gap could quickly be reduced to five or on the flip side extended to 11 in terms of pursuit of the Baggies is concerned.

But in the current climate of social distancing, immediately speaking Leeds just need to make sure they keep a good distance between themselves and Fulham and while Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa would surely never approach it in such a way, Saturday's contest against the Cottagers is now basically must not lose.

Leeds are clearly capable of disposing of Scott Parker's side who looked decent enough but no great shakes against Brentford but Leeds too have questions to answer after their defeat in South Wales.

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United know all too well that having 69 per cent of possession and 17 attempts at goal counts for nothing without finding the net and also conceding at the other end.

Defeat in South Wales was a case of a massive missed opportunity for Leeds but the first weekend back was also something of a big let off really given Fulham's reverse and to a degree West Brom's draw.

Another defeat this weekend and the table would not be so forgiving.

Seven points is a decent cushion with eight games left but Leeds have seen big cushions quickly eroded before.

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The maths will seemingly tell you that United - who are on 71 points - need another 18 points to guarantee promotion with Fulham still at least technically speaking able to finish on 88 points if winning all of their remaining games and Brentford still left with the chance to finish on 87.

Realistically, rather less than that would surely do with Fulham still having to go to West Brom.

Yet after a typically unpredictable first weekend back, the importance of at least one point but ideally three points against Fulham is huge as the mathematics then changes again thereafter.

If Leeds and West Brom were both victorious this weekend for example then 12 points would then be enough for Leeds given the double whammy of another three-point haul for the Whites and a game ticked off with zero points for Fulham and Brentford.

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Looking at the worst case scenario, given United's remaining fixtures, even if Fulham were to win at Elland Road in addition to Brentford beating West Brom, on paper you would still fancy Leeds to see the job through with a four-point and five-point gap respectively.

Nobody, though, wants to go down that route.

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