When Leeds United could be relegated or safe by after twist with best and worst case scenarios
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There is, though, suddenly a much grimmer possibility for Sam Allardyce’s Whites for whom the worst-case scenario could see them officially relegated before even kicking off their penultimate game of the season at West Ham.
Leeds were beaten by just a one-goal margin in Allardcye’s extremely tough first game in charge at title-chasing Manchester City but the result still left the Whites on the brink of the drop zone, sitting fourth bottom and only above the dreaded dotted line on goal difference.
Leeds then initially received a boost in the first of three Premier League games on Bank Holiday Monday as fifth-bottom relegation rivals Leicester City were beaten 5-3 at Fulham which left the Foxes only above the Elland Road side on goal difference.
But Monday’s evening games served up a monster double blow for Leeds as Everton firstly romped to a shock 5-1 win at Brighton before Nottingham Forest then recorded a 4-3 triumph against basement side Southampton at the City Ground.
The results have left Allardyce’s side second-bottom and two points adrift of safety with just three games left, starting with Saturday’s hosting of third-placed Newcastle United at Elland Road. Leeds will then visit sixth-bottom West Ham United before ending the season with a home clash against sixth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, ahead of which there is still a scenario where the Whites could already be safe.
Leeds currently have 30 points which means that victories against both Newcastle and West Ham would put the Whites up to 36 points ahead of the final round of fixtures on Sunday, May 28. There are now only seven teams who could mathematically be relegated, all the way up to 14th-placed Bournemouth but the Cherries are already nine points clear of the drop zone but with a minus 30 goal difference. Gary O’Neill’s side need a point to make it mathematically impossible for them to go down but realistically they are already home and hosed and West Ham are only two points behind them.
With Southampton already on the brink of being down, realistically it’s two from Leeds, Leicester, Everton and Forest joining the Saints for the drop and both the Whites and Foxes are very much stuck behind the 8 ball.
Leeds, though, would ultimately head into their final day assignment against Spurs safe if beating both Newcastle and West Ham in addition to Everton losing both of their next two games and Leicester failing to take more than two points from their next two which would only be known after the conclusion of their away clash at Newcastle on the Monday night after Leeds visit West Ham.
That would leave Southampton already unable to overtake Leeds, Everton on 32 points compared to United’s 36 and Leicester also on 32 compared to United’s 36.
But even a point for Everton from their next two games wipes out that possibility as that would take the Toffees on to 33 points which is the tally already held by Nottingham Forest who will consequently definitely have a chance of finishing above Leeds on the final day irrespective of results in the next two games.
Nevertheless, it does mean that Leeds could technically be safe following the conclusion of Leicester’s clash at Newcastle on Monday, May 22 should the Foxes fail to take a win from that game following on from a failure to net a victory this weekend.
It’s far from impossible with Everton hosting Manchester City this Sunday at 2pm before visiting Wolves for a 3pm kick-off on Saturday, May 20. Leicester take on Liverpool at the King Power next Monday in an 8pm kick-off before another Monday night game the following week at Newcastle.
But the dream scenario needs absolutely everything to go United’s way and the most likely outcome is that United’s fate will be decided either on the final day of the season, by their result at West Ham, or, in the worst-case scenario, the day before the penultimate game of the season against the Irons.
Leeds would be stuck on 30 points should they suffer another defeat against the Magpies on Saturday, after which it might already be impossible for the Whites to overhaul all of West Ham, Forest and Everton even before they kick-off at West Ham.
If Leeds fail to beat Newcastle and are stuck on 30 points or 31 with a draw then there are two possible permutations which could see them down by close of play on Saturday, May 20 – the day when Everton visit Wolves in a 3pm kick-off before Forest at Arsenal at 5.30pm.
If Leeds are still on 30 points then the Whites will be relegated if Everton beat both Man City and Wolves plus Nottingham Forest take four points minimum from Chelsea away and Arsenal at home. In that instance, Leeds would be on 30 with two games left meaning a maximum of 36 but Everton would be on 38 and Forest 37 with everyone else bar Leicester and Southampton impossible to overhaul.
If the Whites get a draw against the Magpies and sit on 31 points then the drop would still be confirmed if Everton and Forest both take six points from their next two. Leeds would be on 31 meaning a maximum of 37 but Everton would be on 38 and Forest 39. Curtains.
Then there is goal difference to consider in something of a mathematical minefield but essentially the possible timeframes only emphasise the importance of taking all three points against the Magpies this weekend. Anything but a victory and the picture becomes even more grim.
Earliest Leeds could be down
7.30pm on Saturday, May 20 (after Forest v Arsenal 5.30pm kick-off): If Leeds lose to Newcastle, coupled with Everton beating both Man City and Wolves, plus Nottingham Forest taking four points against Chelsea and Arsenal. Or if Leeds fail to beat Newcastle coupled with Everton beating both Man City and Wolves plus Nottingham Forest taking six points from Chelsea away and Arsenal at home.
Earliest Leeds could be safe
10pm on Monday, May 22 (after Newcastle v Leicester 8pm kick-off): If Leeds beat both Newcastle and West Ham (on Sunday, May 21) coupled with Everton failing to pick up a point against Man City and Wolves plus Leicester failing to take more than two points from Liverpool at home and Newcastle away. Leeds would then be guaranteed to finish above all of Everton, Leicester and Southampton.