Patrick Bamford relishing Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United tests and declares Leeds United's 'minimum' league aim
PATRICK Bamford says Leeds United should be looking at a top-half finish as a minimum if adding consistency and “shoring up” the side.
Newly-promoted Leeds sit 11th in the Premier League table and 13 points clear of the drop zone with just nine games left.
The Whites have also played one game less than third-bottom Fulham and United are 200-1 to go down but Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa has said he will not declare his side as ‘safe’ until it is mathematically impossible to go down.
Leeds will face three of the division’s big guns in their next four games as Saturday’s return to action at home to rock-bottom Sheffield United will be followed by fixtures against Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Bielsa’s side will take on Pep Guardiola’s runaway leaders City at the Etihad on Saturday, April 10 and back-to-back home fixtures against Jurgen Klopp’s Reds and then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Red Devils follow over the next two weekends.
But Whites no 9 Bamford says he is relishing those contests with the pressure off and insists his side should definitely be aiming for a top-half finish.
Leeds are two points behind tenth-placed Aston Villa who have played a fixture less but the Whites are only three adrift of ninth-placed Arsenal having played the same amount of games.
Bamford told the Official Leeds United Podcast: “In one off games we have played against the top teams and top four teams and we have beat some of them.
“It’s kind of wrong to say that because we have beat them we could definitely get top four but if we got a bit more consistent I think that top ten should be a minimum.
"With the way that we play and if we shore up a little bit and do get that consistency then there’s no reason why not.”
Leeds currently have the joint fourth worst defensive record in the division having shipped in 47 goals in 29 games - the same as Crystal Palace.
Only second-bottom West Brom, rock bottom Sheffield United and a 14th-placed Southampton side who lost 9-0 at Manchester United have conceded more. Bamford, though, says there is no concern about the Whites back line.
“The reason why the defence sometimes gets opened up is because of what we do at the top of the field because of the way we play,” he said.
“If we are late to a press or we are not quite on it or we are not aggressive enough it puts everyone a little bit out of time and out of position and that’s when you see teams kind of cut through us some times.
“So I don’t think it’s necessarily an issue with the defence.
"I think that actually all of the back four or back five with Illan (Meslier) have been brilliant when they have played. It’s just that as a team we are sometimes a little bit off it.”
Assessing United’s run of games against City, Liverpool and the Red Devils, Bamford said: “They are the games that you want to play in because there is no pressure.
“Maybe now people expect us to do a lot more than they did at the start of the season.
"But ordinarily they would be thinking it’s a team that has just come up against the big four, they are not expected to win. It takes all the pressure off, all the pressure is on them.”
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Thank you Laura Collins