YEP Jury: Opportunity knocks for Leeds United to sign-off season in style

Our panel of fans are expecting a feast of goals when West Brom visit Elland Road on Sunday in front of the returning Whites fans.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 6:00 am
Some fans feel youngster Ian Poveda, above in recent action against Liverpool, is waiting for his ‘breakout moment’. Picture: Simon Hulme/JPIMedia.

ANDY RHODES

Here we are at the final game of the season, and what a whirlwind this campaign has been.

A top-half finish has been secured and the praise from pundits has flowed constantly. It’s been nice, hasn’t it? With one game to go, you could forgive Marcelo Bielsa for ringing the changes. With Robin Koch and Mateusz Klich already on leave before international duty, Tyler Roberts shone at Southampton, getting a much-deserved goal.

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Joe Gelhardt has been in sensational form for the under-23s and plenty of fans would love to see him make his first-team debut for Leeds on Sunday. Picture: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images.

Similar to Charlton last season, this could be a chance for the youngsters to get in on the Premier-League action.

Much as with Roberts, it feels like Ian Poveda is waiting for his breakout moment, while the lucky fans inside Elland Road on Sunday will likely want to see Joe Gelhardt make his debut.

It will be a first chance for fans to see their new players in the flesh.

Raphinha, Rodrigo and Diego Llorente have all sparkled recently, a sign of the talent Leeds have been attracting with their Premier-League status.

Pablo Hernandez - without whom, says some fans, Leeds United wouldn't have won promotion last season. Picture: Tim Goode/PA Wire.

A win here would be the perfect sign-off to a perfect season.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 West Bromwich Albion 2.

MATTHEW EVANS
There is every chance that we find ourselves missing out on European football on goal difference after Sunday’s games.

That is a staggering achievement in our first season back in the big league, especially relying largely, as we have done, on players who were seasoned Championship campaigners prior to only this year.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa and West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce at the Hawthorns earlier this season. Picture: Dave Rogers/PA Wire .

The fact we’ve not been able to see any of it happen in the flesh is heartbreaking. The excitement of our return at Anfield, the pulsating draw with Man City, the Bamford hat-trick at Villa Park, demolitions of Burnley, West Brom and Newcastle and the last-minute Dallas winner at the Etihad would, on their own, have surpassed the enjoyment of most seasons in the last 17 years. Thankfully we’re back on Sunday.

I was lucky in the ballot and promise to all those who weren’t as fortunate to be loud and proud for 90 minutes.

We’ll say goodbye to some modern-day legends, we’ll celebrate promotion in the stadium for the first time and we’ll say thank you to Marcelo Bielsa and the players.

The result doesn’t really matter but it seems unlikely that an Elland Road with fans and a Leeds side with their tails up won’t prevail against an already-relegated West Brom.

Prediction: Leeds United 4 West Bromwich Albion 0.

DAVID WATKINS

And so we arrive at the final game in this historic Leeds United campaign.

A top-10 finish already guaranteed, a record number of away Premier League victories in the bag and a chance now for a few lucky fans, me included, to represent the fanbase in showing our appreciation for everything we’ve achieved while we all hope Elland Road can be full when we continue this journey with Marcelo Bielsa next season.

Standing between us and a late-afternoon celebration are West Brom; one of the teams that won promotion behind us last season but who came up short this time. With Sam Allardyce having failed to keep them in the Premier League, and now announcing he’s not going to attempt to bring them back up next season, this may be a farewell to him for good.

Leeds’ win at Southampton had us, at that time, top of the form table for the last 10 games with a 21-point haul to finally dispel, once and for all, any notion of ‘Bielsa burnout’ and I’m backing the Mighty Whites to go out with a bang against the Baggies!

Prediction: Leeds United 4 West Bromwich Albion 0.

JACOB STARR

One more to go in this magnificent season, with already-relegated West Brom the visitors on Sunday in an Elland Road which will finally welcome back fans after 16 long months.

Despite stadiums not being at full capacity, more than 8,000 Leeds fans will be able to celebrate Marcelo Bielsa’s side wrapping up a top-10 finish.

A 2-0 victory at Southampton on Tuesday via Patrick Bamford and Tyler Roberts achieved for the Whites a third successive win, preventing 11th-placed Aston Villa from gaining enough points to catch us.

The focus on Sunday should be on another Spaniard though, if it is to be Pablo Hernandez’s farewell. Without him, we likely wouldn’t be playing top-flight football this season and it has been a shame to see him feature less this campaign.

Hopefully, we can give him the send-off he deserves, though. It will, no doubt, be a party feel, and it could be a party scoreline if the Whites keep up their superb form, against a team we hit for five at the Hawthorns back in December.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 West Bromwich Albion 0.

KEITH INGHAM

Fresh from their 10th away win at St Mary’s, Leeds host West Brom in their last game of the 2020/21 season at Elland Road in front of 8,000 excited home fans.

Much has been written about football without fans; for me, it lessens the game as an ‘event’ and I, for one, will miss out on Sunday’s experience.

I was tempted to go and stand outside but will wait until next season when, hopefully, a full house will welcome their team in August. I hope to be one of them.

West Brom have had a poor season but still have players who will be wanting to spoil Leeds’ party.

One of them is ex-Leeds loanee Kyle Bartley though he should get a warm welcome from the Leeds fans.

Leeds will be going for their fourth win on the bounce, a thing they haven’t done in the top flight for a number of years.

They are currently top of the form table ahead of Manchester City, Man Utd and Liverpool with 21 points from a possible 30.

That, in itself, is remarkable for a team in its first season in the Premier League.

Burn out ... what burnout!

I’m hoping that Leeds can finish this season in style with a comfortable win.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 West Bromwich Albion 0.

MIKE GILL

When a team has reached the goal that it has been striving for, it is only natural that they take their foot of the gas.

Apart from the result against Brighton, the Whites have been the exception to this rule.

In the second half against Southampton, they demonstrated, once again, that they are driven by their belief in themselves and their style of football.

During the course of a remarkable season, Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds have been patronised, damned by faint praise and misunderstood.

‘Bielsa’s teams always burnout.’

‘They won’t keep this level of intensity up.’

‘Bielsa doesn’t care if they lose as long as they play nice football ...’

In the first half of the season, Leeds had their issues due to major injury problems in the centre of defence.

These problems have largely been corrected but pundits still trot out stuff about poor defending and vulnerability at set-pieces although this is no longer the case.

Can United clear the final hurdle and beat West Brom?

Does it even matter?

You can bet your life it does.

Prediction: Leeds United 3 West Bromwich Albion 1.

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