Five reasons Leeds United's automatic promotion goal still in sight as hidden cause for Farke calm revealed

Nick Potts/PA Wire
Leeds United may sit fourth in the Championship table, seven points from Ipswich Town in second, but their hopes of automatic promotion have not died out with 19 games of the regular season remaining.

Daniel Farke's insistence that he is not paying too much attention to the table until the final weeks of the season has been a constant throughout Leeds' campaign so far. The German is experienced in this field, having won promotion twice as league champions with Norwich City in the not-so-distant past, and knows a thing or two about going toe-to-toe with the best the Championship has to offer.

While this season is somewhat trickier given the strength of promotion rivals, Leeds are keeping pace with those at the very top, albeit more so Ipswich and Southampton than runaway leaders Leicester City.

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United's goal from top-to-bottom is bouncing back to Premier League football at the first time of asking. It is the club's sole ambition, from chairman Paraag Marathe who stated as much upon taking majority control from Andrea Radrizzani last summer, to 17-year-old Archie Gray, who reaffirmed the playing squad's desire to go up, after signing a new long-term contract earlier this week.

Here are five reasons hidden in the numbers why Leeds are not giving up hope on finishing in the top two.


That is the difference between Leeds' Expected Goal Conceded (xGC) and Leicester's xGC from open play this season. While the Foxes may be streets ahead of Farke's men, they are giving up just as many chances of near-identical quality to Leeds.

Leicester's xGC is the lowest in the Championship at 16.69 after 27 games, while Leeds' is 17.06. That is to say, United's defending of their opponents' open-play attacks is more or less as effective as the league leaders, which should give Farke hope that his team are doing exactly as asked when it comes to limiting the opposition goalscoring opportunities. Title defences and promotion charges are built upon a foundation of being solid at the back - Leeds boast that in 2023/24.


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Furthermore, Leeds have conceded the joint-fewest goals from set-pieces in the Championship this season with four. Only Hull City can match Leeds' efforts when defending set-plays. United have also conceded the fewest shots from opposition set-pieces, with 72. The team are drilled at getting the ball clear in dangerous dead-ball situations, to say the least.


This figure represents the xG Leeds have conceded from set-pieces which, as you might have guessed having read above, is the lowest in the Championship this season. This means that Leeds conceding the joint-fewest goals from set-plays is no coincidence and that the quality of chances opponents get when attacking corners and free-kicks against Farke's men is consistently low.


That number is the average distance from goal, in yards, Leeds take their shots, which is the shortest in the division. In other words, Leeds are getting their shots off closer to goal than any other team. Getting closer to the opposition net is likely to mean Leeds create better shooting and scoring opportunities, and goals win games.


Leeds' total non-penalty xG is the joint-highest in the league alongside Southampton's this season. After 27 matches, Leeds are averaging 1.61 xG from non-penalty shots in every single outing, which is to say the team are prolific chance creators. Over such a period of almost 30 games, that is enough of a sample size to suggest this level of performance will continue over the remaining 19 fixtures, therefore opposition defences and goalkeepers will need to be on top form if they are to stop Leeds finding the back of the net, often multiple times per game.

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Farke's analysts and coaching team will be well aware of these numbers, which perhaps explains the 47-year-old's calm demeanour in press conferences when posed with questions on the topic of promotion. There is a long way to go, but Leeds are ticking along nicely, according to the stats. As Farke has reiterated on more than one occasion in so many words, it isn't over until the final matchday.

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