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Leeds Utd have battled away all season but have once again fallen short in their bid to secure automatic promotion, yet fans should take solace in the betting lines for the playoffs. Leeds are nestled comfortably in the playoff places in fifth, six points ahead of seventh-placed Fulham. They are expected to make it and they are the second favourites to win the richest game in world football: the playoff final.
Runaway leaders Newcastle and Brighton are expected to secure the two automatic playoff spots. It is hard on Huddersfield, who have been fantastic for large chunks of the season but look to have ultimately been undone by a couple of sticky patches in their form.
Right now the four teams most likely to reach the playoffs are Huddersfield, Reading, Leeds and Fulham. Sheff Wed could usurp Fulham, depending on how the remaining handful of regular season games go, but either way Leeds should be fine. A review of the best soccer odds at YouWager shows that Leeds are favourites to win more than half of their remaining games. They should have little trouble in making the playoffs.
Bookmakers have released odds on who will win the playoffs and they are as follows: Huddersfield (3/1), Leeds (10/3) and Fulham, Reading and Sheff Wed all 5/1. The fact that Leeds are only second favourites by a third of a point shows how highly they are rated by expert odds compilers. The betting public is also siding with Leeds. By far and away the most action has gone on Leeds winning the playoffs, followed by Fulham and then Huddersfield.
The wheels have come off a bit for Huddersfield in recent weeks. Back-to-back defeats against lowly Bristol City and Burton Albion in which they failed to score and conceded five have seriously dented their chances of making the top two. It is all about momentum at this time of the season, and Huddersfield do not have it. They may have used it all up a little early.
Leeds had been pretty solid since the turn of the year, winning nine league games and only losing three. The worrying thing is that two of the teams they lost to were Huddersfield and Reading with those of those losses coming in the last week. Leeds have lost to Huddersfield twice this season, although they are all square with Reading, having beaten them 2-0 earlier in the campaign. They have drawn twice against Fulham and beaten Sheffield Wednesday twice. A recent win over Brighton shows they can be counted against the league’s best sides, but it all points to things being extremely close in the playoffs.
Their rivals have plenty of reasons to be sceptical too though. Despite beating Leeds, Reading’s form has been patchy and they have been conceding plenty of goals. Leeds have a far better defensive record than Reading this season, and have scored as many goals. Leeds also have a better defensive record than Fulham, Huddersfield and Sheff Wed. The only teams to have conceded fewer goals are the top two. It shows how well Gary Monk has drilled his charges. In Chris Wood they also have the league’s deadliest striker. Wood has notched 24 goals this season, putting him two ahead of Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle.
These are the sort of things that matter in the playoffs: a tight defence and a goal scorer are what can see you through in a knockout format. Right now that 10/3 on Leeds looks a good bet and it is easy to understand why more punters are backing Leeds to emerge victorious from the playoffs than any other team. It has been 13 years since Leeds were relegated from the top flight. The club has stabilised in the past few years and now it is ready to re-join the elite.