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After a slow start to the season, Leeds United are slowly improving and have started to climb up the Championship table. The Whites have lost just two of their last six matches and now sit 16th in the division. Bizarrely, they are just nine points behind Birmingham, who are sixth and occupy that coveted final playoff position.
If Leeds are to be considered a potential play-off punt and to feature in the postseason, they must continue to improve and need to maintain their current run of form – defeat to Rotherham excepted. Here are four crucial upcoming fixtures that could define the remainder of Leeds’ season.
Queens Park Rangers vs LEEDS
After losing 1-0 at home to Rotherham in their most recent fixture, Leeds will be chomping at the bit to get back on the winning trail. Steve Evans was extremely disappointed with their performance against his former side and Leeds fans will be expecting a much improved display against a QPR side that has failed to inspire confidence at Loftus Road this season.
Rangers were one of the leading candidates to earn promotion back to the top flight prior to the beginning of the campaign but have slipped to 15th in the table – just one point above Leeds. With the incentive to climb up to 12th in the division, Leeds will be eager to respond in the best way possible and pick up the victory in west London.
Charlton Athletic vs LEEDS
At the time of writing, Charlton are struggling. They have won just four matches so far this season and are dangerously close to the relegation zone. Although they have won their last two matches, they are there for the taking and Leeds will need to put together a solid unbeaten run on the road if they are to climb up the Championship table.
If the Whites are deadly serious about securing a playoff spot, these are the matches that they will need to win. Charlton have struggled for goals this campaign and Leeds may be able to exploit their leaky defence with an organised performance. Evans’ men have a good away record this season and that should continue against Charlton.
LEEDS vs Preston
Yet another must-win. Preston have performed admirably so far but as the festive season approaches, they may struggle to cope with the added demands of the Championship campaign. In terms of league position, both sides are lingering in the lower half of the division but Leeds definitely have more potential to climb up the table.
Leeds will be eager to produce an impressive performance in front of their home fans, especially as this is their final home game before Christmas. If Evans’ side perform at their very best, they are more than capable of winning this match but must be wary of Preston’s talented attacking unit.
Nottingham Forest vs LEEDS
Providing there are no Christmas/Boxing Day hangovers, Leeds will feel quietly confident about this clash. Forest are perhaps the Championship’s most inconsistent side and while that means it is difficult to predict how they will perform, Leeds will believe that they are there for the taking if they perform well and remain solid defensively.
Over the years, Forest have been widely regarded as one of the Championship’s best attacking teams. However, they have lost a number of their key players over the last couple of seasons to injury and departure and are no longer a dominant force in the division. If Evans sets his team up in the right way, they will be difficult to beat and could nick yet another away victory.