With the season approaching its business end, West Yorkshire-based Leeds United are looking to return to the top flight English football, after 13 seasons in the Football Championship and League 1. The side managed by Garry Monk are in the play-off position, 7 points clear of 7th placed Norwich City, with 13 games to go till the end of the season.
If the players of Leeds United can put their season together and avoid a collapse as in the 2013-14 season, the club are one of the favourites to join the English Premier League next season.
Leeds have got a quality attack and defence this season, as they have managed to score 45 goals while letting in just 34 goals and some of them are likely to play a pivotal role, if the club has to go all the way to the play-off finals and win it. Let us take a look at them.
1. Kyle Bartley (Central Defender)
The 25-year old defender, on loan from Swansea City, is key to Monk’s prospects, if Leeds United are to return to the top flight. While he has acquired 7 yellow cards, the former England U17 man has played each and every minute of the 32 games he has started in the Championship this season.
With a pass completion rate of 80.9%, Bartley is on par with many top quality midfielders in the English top flight. He has also found the back of the net 4 times this season while setting up 2 times for his teammates. The 1.85 meters tall centre-back has won 3 to 4 aerial duels in every game he has played so far and is a prized commodity for the Peacocks.
His form will definitely be a factor if Leeds are to secure a place in the Premier League by the end of the season.
2. Chris Wood (Striker)
After witnessing heartbreak, courtesy late penalty drama in the play-off semi-finals in the 2013-14 season with Leicester City, the Kiwi target man has already bettered his personal goal-scoring record of 13 goals in a season.
The 25-year old is enjoying the form of his career so far, netting 19 out of 45 goals scored by Leeds United, which is close to 42% of the total goals scored by the club. The striker doesn’t always trace back and is caught offside, but with his deadly finishing ability, Garry Monk will be hoping that the form continues at least until the end of the season.
3. Pablo Hernández (Midfielder)
Another former Swansea man who is key to Leeds United’s promotion target is Pablo Hernández. The 31-year old Spanish midfielder has scored 4 goals and helped in setting up 7 other for his team since the start of the season.
Though he is weak in aerial duels and crossing, Hernández makes up for the same with his deadly set-pieces and through balls. The Spaniard has been a major asset for Leeds in the central midfield and it remains to be seen whether he can carry his form till the end of the season.
Leeds United’s form this season has often been dependent on Hernández’s form on the pitch and Monk will be hopeful that he remains fully fit and continues in the same vein to help the club achieve promotion.
Statistics credit: WhoScored