Sixpence/half a crown time. This analysis looks good, what you reckon Foxy?
4 wins and #lufc are finally up
Jun 16 · 4 min read
Predicting the race for promotion to the EPL
With 27 points to play for, Leeds sit 7 points clear of third place Fulham, in what will be a rollercoaster 9 game sprint to close up the 2019/2020 EFL Championship! I’m focussing here on Fulham, as they are the only team realistically in with a chance of tipping Leeds or WBA out of the top two.
Fulham have a 9 game rolling points average for the season of 15.7. Continue this average and Leeds would require just 9 points (3 solitary wins) to finish above them. For any normal club topping the table at this stage, this level of drop would be unheard of. But this is Leeds United we are talking about…
After all, Leeds’ worst 9 game run of the season was securing just 8 points at the end of Gameweek 31 (culminating in that 2–0 defeat to Forest). Leeds’ 2019/20 avg. points haul over 9 game blocks is 16.0 . With our best run culminating in 23 points secured at the end of three consecutive Gameweeks (20, 21 and 22).
Graph comparing Leeds and Fulham’s form over 9 games across 2019/20
Fulham’s can only claim a best run of form of 20 points over any 9 game run (2.22 pts per game), achieved at the end of Gameweek 31 and 32. All data from Transfermrkt form tables.
Were these two extreme runs to coincide again, Fulham would leapfrog Leeds and secure automatic promotion. As I’m sure we can all agree that with their top manager, strong squad and a comfortable last 9 fixtures, WBA will surely go up at their 2nd attempt.
Points difference between Leeds and Fulham across 19/20, compared to the points turnaround required
But with previous form effectively out of the window with all clubs having a break longer than a standard pre-season gap, can we really read too much into what went before? And is how teams start a season a better comparison?
How likely is it the Fulham can outperform their best 9 game form and put Leeds under real pressure?
With 4 of the top six still to play (3 away), Fulham easily have the hardest run of games to come of any team in the division. Let’s assume each of these top 6 clashes results in a draw, causing Fulham to drop 8 points. Their maximum possible points haul then can only be 19.
In this scenario Leeds need just 12 points (4 wins) to go up. With Leeds holding a 11 point gap on Brentford and Forest, a 23 point advantage would require either of them to win 8 of 9 (which just won’t happen).
Fulham have such a high potential squad that they could make a fool of this blog come August. But does Scott Parker really have the tactical and leadership skills to create such a reversal of fortunes?
How well do Leeds and Fulham start new seasons?
Bielsa teams typically explode out of the block and at Leeds he has achieved 18 points in 2018/19 and 17 this season. Repeats of this would require Fulham to win 8 out of their 9 games!
Fulham have a reputation for starting slow, but is that true? Well, in their last 3 Championship seasons they have clocked up 11, 13 and 15 points respectively. Which would again leave Leeds needing just 3 wins to go up.
So just what do Leeds realistically need to be sure?
If Leeds secure 5 wins from 9 (a small drop off from our overall season form), Fulham’s form becomes irrelevant as they would need a whopping 7 wins and a draw from 9 games (22 points at least).
Fulham failing to win both of their 1st two (quite likely with games against Brentford and Leeds) and they’d then have to then win every single game thereafter to stand any chance of overhauling Leeds. I’d call this scenario as good as guaranteed promotion as you can get. If Fulham can turn around that start and cope with that pressure, they’d deserve to go up more than any club in the history of the Championship!
In reality I can see 4 Leeds wins being enough to take us up, especially if we avoid defeat to Fulham on 27th June. But start badly and the build up of pressure that would follow could still make this a gut wrenching finale.
Right now I’m positive and imagining how delicious a late Pontus Jansson winner would be this Saturday. And the pressure that would heap on Fulham prior to that trip Elland Road the following week. How poetic a narrative that would be after last summers post Pontus meltdown and pre Ben White love story.
If only it was all that simple?!
My head and data says stay calm, but my heart still expects the last minute of the last game as a far more Leeds way to F this up.