Thursday, September 29, 2022

A Middlesbrough Fan On Why Leeds United Might Not Be Promoted This Season

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Josh Barker
Middlesbrough FC correspondent for The 4th Official.

After finishing 7th in the Championship last season, one spot off the playoffs, Leeds were determined to push forward this season and aim for promotion. They have attempted to do this by bringing in a number of new signings. These include Samu Saiz from the Spanish second division and Pontus Jansson from Serie A side Torino. The host of new signings certainly seems to have helped Leeds United.

As it stands, Leeds United are top of the Championship with 17 points. They are also the only unbeaten team left in the Championship after Cardiff lost 3-0 to Preston North End. Currently, they have won five and drawn two and things look very positive for Leeds.

Perhaps the most impressive part about Leeds United so far this season is their defensive record. In the seven Championship games they have played this season Leeds have let in just two goals. Only Preston boasts the same record as the league leaders.

This defensive dominance is in no small part due to the excellent displays Pontus Jansson has put in. In fact, the only time Leeds have conceded this season, twice on the opening day against Bolton, Jansson was out suspended. This means that in the six games the Swed has played, Leeds have not let in a single goal.

However, while Leeds have had an excellent start to the season, things may not be a rosy as they seem. This is largely due to the fact Leeds sold their star player Chris Wood to Burnley earlier this summer.

Wood was by far Leeds United’s best player last season. He scored an impressive 30 goals in all competitions last season. He was also the Championship top scorer with 27 goals and was a large reason why Leeds came so close to finishing in the playoffs. Woods’ form has even continued into the Premier League where he has scored two in two for new club Burnley.

The problem for Leeds though is they haven’t really replaced Chris Wood. This is evident when you look at who their current top scorer in the league is. That man is currently Kalvin Phillips with three goals in seven games. Phillips is a central midfielder and not someone Leeds United should be relying on to score their goals. Especially when you consider that in his entire 58 game career for Leeds United, he has only scored five goals.

Admittedly Leeds have signed some new strikers to try and replace Wood. But none of them seems to be as good as him. In total Leeds have signed four centre forwards this summer. Jay Roy-Grot from the Dutch League, Pawel Cibicki from Sweden, Caleb Ekuban from the Serie A and Pierre-Michel Lassogga on loan from Hamburg.

So far Grot has not scored for Leeds, Cibicki has yet to play for the Yorkshire club and Ekuban is also yet to score for Leeds in the league. Admittedly Lassogga did do well in his debut. He scored two when Leeds beat Burton. This would indicate maybe he could fill Wood’s boots. But that may have just been a one off for a number of reasons. Firstly because Burton are not exactly a great side. They are 21st in the league and have conceded the joint most goals in the Championship (14), along with Bolton. Also, Lassogga started against Birmingham who

Also, Lassogga started against Birmingham who are 22nd on Tuesday and he didn’t score against them. Finally, last season, Lassogga made 20 appearances for Hamburg in the league. In those 20 games, he scored just once. Once in 20 games is an awful record for a striker and it may suggest even further that Lassogga’s brace at Burton may be a one off.

This would leave Leeds United without a true goal scorer in their promotion push and this is the reason they may struggle to get promoted this season. Just look at Middlesbrough last season. Last season, before Steve Agnew took over, Boro were defensively very good and only teams in the top six of the Premier League had a better defensive record than them. Even at the end of the season, Boro had conceded 53 goals, a much better record than teas around them. Such as Hull City who conceded 80 and Sunderland who conceded 69. Even teams higher in the table like Bournemouth and Leicester conceded 63 and 67, which was more than Boro.

But Middlesbrough’s main problem was that they couldn’t score enough goals and even though they had a very respectable defensive record, they still finished 19th in the league. Middlesbrough scored just 27 league goals in 38 matches last year and it was this abysmal record that saw them relegated.

This may be a problem that Leeds could face this season when trying to win promotion. Defensively they are very good. But if you are going to get promoted, you need a goal scorer in your team. Leeds United do not really have one after selling Chris Wood.

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