The point at which Leeds United would be 'safe' as Everton dice with new danger - David Prutton

There might be a school of thought that Leeds United would be safe given a victory at Watford today.

By David Prutton
Saturday, 9th April 2022, 4:45 am

But Everton and Burnley still have two games in hand on the Whites and the Toffees and Clarets are still just about near enough for it to be uncomfortable, I would say.

I don’t think anybody at Leeds is getting carried away with where they are in the Premier League table or what we have seen under Jesse Marsch so far because, fundamentally, they have still got to cross the finish line.

Leeds have been cracking since turning a corner under Jesse and the back-to-back victories against Norwich and Wolves before the international break followed by last weekend’s draw against Southampton were much-needed and provided some much-welcome respite from the pressure.

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TROUBLED TIMES: For Everton and boss Frank Lampard, centre, pictured after Wednesday night's 3-2 defeat to a tough Burnley side managed by Sean Dyche, left. Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images.

But until it’s mathematically impossible to go down there is still enough jeopardy in there as to not get too relaxed, even if Leeds win at Watford which is still a game they could easily slip up in.

You can highlight the bad results that Watford have had and point to the fact that they have lost their last eight games at home but they can grind it out.

They won at Southampton and gained a point at Man United, albeit they have been beaten by Liverpool, Wolves, Arsenal and Palace in between.

But there is still enough quality and fight in that team and a manager in Roy Hodgson who absolutely knows how to work his way around this division.

I think, given where all the teams are, Norwich perhaps, with the greatest respect, maybe a little bit less so, Watford, Burnley and Everton underneath Leeds are teams that you absolutely cannot write off until it is mathematically certain.

Burnley know how to get out of it, Watford are used to bouncing between the two divisions and Everton have been an absolute institution in the top flight for as long as I can remember and then there is Newcastle too.

There is nothing down there in the mix that can make you feel overly comfortable and Watford will be a tough game for Leeds.

Joao Pedro was a young player who we saw rip up the Championship at Watford last season and he was a joy to watch.

When you are looking at players who can cause problems, he is definitely one of them.

Ismaila Sarr was another up-and-coming player who I really enjoyed watching for them in the Championship.

Maybe it feels like they are one of those teams that operate in between the top half of the Championship and the bottom half of the Premier League.

But they have also got players like Cucho Hernandez and Moussa Sissoko and players like Sissoko especially know their way around English football.

It won’t be easy by any stretch of the imagination but what could make it easier is the type of team that Leeds are on the day because, on their day, they are as good as at least a third or a half of the division.

That’s what they have got to err on between now and the end of the season in this ‘mini season’ that they have embarked upon under Jesse Marsch.

They have two wins and a draw under him and it’s about maintaining that.

It’s true to say that there have been dramatic twists and turns within that and already times where the fans have had to hold on for a white-knuckle ride.

But, while Watford have players that can cause Leeds problems, if Leeds are at their best then it should be a game that they can definitely manage.

I think Leeds will be fine in terms of staying up and, as the table stands, they will definitely be absolutely fine.

They have shown enough fight and enough bottle which is the finger that is being pointed towards Everton, not being able to see out games and the post-match interview from Burnley boss Sean Dyche after Wednesday night’s 3-2 victory against them at Turf Moor was absolutely right.

He could smell that they couldn’t see games out which has been absolutely borne out in what we have seen from them.

Everton are now third favourites to go down for the first time this season and you can always look back at big clubs that have dropped out of the Premier League, something that Leeds know all too well themselves.

You can look back at Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton and Newcastle and teams that have dropped out of it and then bounced around in between.

But, when you look back at the Man United team that went down in the 1970s, this Everton side potentially dropping out feels as big as that.

Not having Everton in the top flight is a conversation that has not been had for generations.

But, given where they are now and given the performances that we have seen from them, they are in very big danger of being one of the biggest clubs you could ever see dropping to the second tier.

It’s all very intriguing and, if you are somewhere towards being a neutral, then you are probably thoroughly enjoying all the drama that surrounds it.

From a Leeds point of view, it’s still a case of fighting tooth and nail and gritting your teeth but it’s a hell of a lot more comfortable than it was three games ago.