Can Leeds Return to the EPL After a 13 Year Absence?
10 Apr 2017 10:19am, by YorkshireSquare
The Championship is inundated with fallen giants, many of whom have struggled to regain their top flight status in the ultra-competitive Premier League era. This number includes Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa, who managed to win three European Cups between them in just four years between 1979 and 1982.
Then we have Leeds United, who were relegated from the Premier League 13 years ago and have even plumbed the depths of League One during this time.
The Yorkshire club has also won five major honours and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups in its impressive history, while they remain the fifth best supported side in the Championship despite having spent more than a decade in the wilderness.
Can Leeds Make Their EPL Return This Season?
This year could mark Leeds' return to the EPL, however, with the club remaining in fifth place after an impressive 3-0 win over Preston at the weekend.
Monk's men are now three points clear of Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday (who recently kept up the pace with a thrilling 2-1 win against promotion favourites Newcastle), while more importantly they have maintained a five point lead over Fulham in seventh place.
The Cottagers are the only side that can realistically deny Leeds a play-off place, with the team 10 points clear of eighth place Derby County with just five matches to play.
However, it’s important to note that securing a play-off place is still far from guaranteed. Leeds host Newcastle in the next game, for example, and the Magpies will be keen to bounce back from their recent defeat at Hillsborough and resume their title charge.
A home game against free-scoring Norwich City on 29th April will also be testing, as will the season finale at Wigan (the Latics are currently fighting to retain their Championship status).
In contrast, Fulham will fancy their chances of garnering points from their next four games, before steeling themselves for a final day clash with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
What Do the Bookmakers Think? Is This Leeds' Year?
Even allowing for the competitive and unpredictable nature of the Championship (and the form of fellow promotion chasers Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham), Leeds have a clear advantage that should see them confirm their play-off place. The bookmakers have certainly recognised this. We can be backed at 1/12 to finish in the top six and are priced at 7/2 to achieve the ultimate goal of promotion. If you’re going to put money on the Whites, Bonus Codes' offering of free bets may be worth a browse.
Of course, it is impossible to predict how Leeds will fare during the play-offs, particularly given that just five points separate sixth place from third. One thing that cannot be denied is the fact that the club's fans feel as though they are long overdue a return to the Premier League.
This could definitely be Leeds' year, although much will depend on how the players handle the expectation of the fans and imposing weight of history.