Derby County v Leeds United - Perplexed Pontus Jansson laughs off Whites 'underdogs' tag

DEFIANT: Pontus Jansson.
DEFIANT: Pontus Jansson.
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CENTRE-BACK Pontus Jansson has dismissed suggestions that Leeds United’s recent form makes them underdogs to seal promotion through the Championship’s play-offs.

Third-placed finishers Leeds are actually the bookmakers joint-favourites with Aston Villa to win the end of season four-way shootout but approach Saturday evening’s semi-final first leg at Derby County having taken just one point from their last four games and having lost five of their last nine.

Derby, meanwhile, have lost just one of their last 12 - winning six - while fifth-placed finishers Aston Villa’s only defeat in their last 13 games came in last weekend’s 2-1 loss at home to champions Norwich City.

Prior to their 1-1 draw at Elland Road at the end of April, Villa had won a club record ten games in a row while Villa’s semi final opponents West Brom’s only loss from their last five games came in last weekend’s 3-1 reverse at Derby.

Having signed off for the regular season with a disappointing 3-2 loss at already relegated Ipswich Town, United’s form has led to suggestions in some quarters that Leeds should actually be seen as outsiders but Jansson scoffed at suggestions his men were now underdogs.

“Underdogs?” said a perplexed Jansson. “I cannot understand how you see us as underdogs when we are third in the table and beaten them twice.

“Going into the play-offs as the third team, you should be favourites, if you ask me.

“We know that we are good, as we say it’s been a tough month for us but that gives us more motivation to be extra motivated to go into this play-offs.

“So, you can see us as underdogs if you want but no, not in our world.

“It has been a positive year for us, apart from this last month we’ve had some bad results. Apart from that it has been a fantastic year, now we just have to write the last chapter of it. We have to start on Saturday.”

Leeds and Villa are both a best-priced 2-1 to win the play-offs with West Brom 4-1 and Derby 9-2.