Why Leeds United can be fancied for top-two with huge boost chance but club must: David Prutton

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I would still be confident that Leeds United can seal automatic promotion, writes DAVID PRUTTON.

But I would also be concerned of course with the team's inability to kill teams off or to be at their absolute maximum. Last weekend's 1-0 defeat at home to Blackburn Rovers was a result that none of us really saw coming, with the greatest respect to Blackburn, given the fact that they got pumped at Bristol City during the week. But Blackburn obviously pulled out a very stoic defensive performance and a very, very well taken goal by a kid in Sammie Szmodics who has had a wonderful season.

With Leeds, there's been enough in the last four games to be concerned about. But a possible help from a mental point of view is the fact that Ipswich Town don't play for a little bit so Leeds can try and get on with their particular part of the business and hope that Ipswich slip up when it comes to them playing again.

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But there are some big games coming up. We are at Leicester v West Brom for today’s lunchtime kick-off and then you have obviously got Leeds at Boro on Monday and Southampton at Leicester the following night. It's not for the faint-hearted.

CONFIDENCE: In Leeds United and boss Daniel Farke, above, despite a big recent wobble. Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Wire.CONFIDENCE: In Leeds United and boss Daniel Farke, above, despite a big recent wobble. Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Wire.
CONFIDENCE: In Leeds United and boss Daniel Farke, above, despite a big recent wobble. Photo by Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

But Leeds have shown time and time again just how good they are. They are a team good enough to finish in the top two. It's just that now they have got to rely somewhat on other people which I think would have been a surprise given what 2024 has shown. But it's also a reality check that there are some very good teams in this division.

Ipswich are not remotely home and hosed. They might not have won against Boro last weekend but they had seen Leicester lose and then Leeds lose too. Consequently, it would have been very easy to get sucked into thinking that things would be very straightforward for them but they weren't and they had to get themselves back on level terms against Boro.

At the moment, you've got to say that they deservedly sit at the top of the division. But I didn't see those three results with Leicester, Leeds and Middlesbrough happening last weekend so I think you can say, without completely sitting on the fence, that Leeds can still do it because it's not only them that are unpredictable. So are Ipswich and Leicester in recent weeks.

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I could absolutely see West Brom getting something at Leicester this lunchtime. There might be a slight points differential between the two sides but West Brom are in the play-offs. We're not talking about them at the bottom of the table, we are talking about a team that wants to get promoted as well and have shown consistently under manager Carlos Corberan, just what a good team they are. You can look at the nominations for manager of the year and Carlos would have been unfortunate not to have been amongst those.

It feels like West Brom have been fifth forever this season The cynic might say, 'well, you've not really been knocking on the door of the top two then' but they have shown a consistency to be exactly potentially where they should be given the fact that are playing against three former Premier League sides in the ones that bounced down, the outlier obviously being Ipswich.

But West Brom have been wonderfully consistent. Maybe you would look at their run of form in the last four or five games and say that for Leicester they would be looking to get back on track. But West Brom's team is an experienced team packed with the ability to be able to cause the opposition problems and a manager that knows how to get a side into the playoffs. It's by no means an easy game for Leicester by any stretch of imagination.

Southampton also go to Cardiff City today for a 3pm kick-off in which a victory would put them level on points with Leeds. Then they have got that game at Leicester next Tuesday night. Their form recently has featured late winners and then they were very ruthless in their despatching of Preston North End in midweek. They are in great form.

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Given the fact that they can catch the top two/top three, you can't say that this is not a four-horse race. It's definitely a four-horse race and they have three more games before Ipswich even play again. It just goes to show exactly what the division throws up. It's perfectly poised. Four into two doesn't go and we could be in for a blockbuster final day at Elland Road when Southampton are in town.

When you are assessing just how important it is that Leeds go up, football will always be about the here and now. I understand building and understand a projecting of where the future might take them. But it's really tough. We didn't know for definite what we would get from Leeds this season with regards to who would be in charge and who would be taking them forward. Broadly speaking, it's been a very enjoyable season but it's a season that has to finish in promotion.

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