Are Leeds cracking under the pressure of the title race?

Stuttering form

Leeds United fell to yet another defeat in the Championship on Tuesday night, losing 1-0 away to Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

Questions were already being asked about Marcelo Bielsa’s team in recent weeks, but will only intensify following a loss against a side who prior to their meeting on Tuesday had lost seven games on the bounce, not winning since Boxing Day.

Boxing Day was ironically the day when Leeds’ winning run was extended to seven matches in the Championship, but have since seen their form plummet in comparison.

Leeds have since played 11 games in all competitions, losing six and have managed just four wins in the last two months. Some of those results could prove to be particularly costly come the end of the season.

Losing 3-1 to Norwich City at the beginning of February has given the Canaries the advantage and momentum in the title race heading into the closing week of the season. They have also tasted defeat against promotion hopefuls in Hull and Nottingham Forest, as well as mid-table sides in Stoke City and QPR.

During the first half of the season it seemed as if it was an inevitability that Leeds would win promotion back to the Premier League, but other contenders have had other ideas in the last few months.

Norwich Leeds

Why are they faltering?

It would be negligent to ignore the form of main rivals Norwich City and Sheffield United in the reason for Leeds’ downfall, with both teams being in relentless form over the last few months.

Starting with leaders Norwich, Daniel Farke has seen his team lost just three of their last 29 Championship matches since suffering a 3-0 loss against Leeds at Carrow Road back in August. At that stage of the campaign few anticipated that the Canaries would be in and around the title picture, but they have been in incredible form ever since, winning 18 of their last 29 league outings.

The momentum ceratinly seems to be with the free-scoring Canaries, who are spearheaded by one of the Championship’s most prolific strikers in Teemu Pukki, who has netted 23 league goals this term. Likewise, Sheffield United have been in excellent form and are also lead by one of the most feared forwards in the division in Billy Sharp.

The Blades have lost just once in their previous 11 matches in the Championship, winning eight of those and are currently on a three-match winning streak. Defensively they have also improved, keeping clean sheets in each of their last four victories.

Leeds meanwhile appear to be lacking confidence and are dropping points within games in which they would be expecting to get results from.

‘Spygate’ will also be used as a stick to poke Bielsa with, with the incident putting Leeds under the magnifying glass to the rest of the Championship and making them the villains of the division to a certain extent.

Frank Lampard was left raging at the fact Leeds had been viewing their training sessions in the build-up to their game at Elland Road, with it being a feeling that is likely to be mutual amongst many of the other managers in the Championship. Bielsa admitted to spying on all of their opponents earlier in the season, giving sides an added incentive to beat them in their reverse fixtures in the second half of the campaign.

Leeds United

Running out of steam?

Another thing that will certainly come into question is the amount of work Bielsa puts his team through in training sessions. During pre-season double and triple sessions were the norm, while he has even been known to set up double training sessions during the season.

Bielsa’s philosophy has always been to play a high-energy game, with his teams always pressing relentlessly regardless of who they play against. But just as relentless is the nature of the Championship and sustaining that level of intensity over the course of a 46-game league season is extremely testing.

This is the Argentine’s first season in the Championship, making him a novice to how difficult it can be playing in such a style over the course of a season which has eight more games than he is used to in other divisions.

However, he put those doubts to bed when addressing them in the aftermath of last night’s defeat. "What our team has shown in every game is that we have an excess of energy," he said.

"If you look at the figures you can see that if there is a problem that this team has, it is not a lack of energy.

"It's not an opinion, you just have to look at the figures to draw your own conclusions."

Whatever the issue is, Bielsa must find a solution sooner rather than later before they miss out on an automatic promotion spot which looked destined to be theirs at the start of the campaign.

Leeds United

🔴 Bet £5 & Get £20 FREE BETS! 🔴
Claim Bonus
🏆 £20 Risk Free First Bet - Money Back in CASH 🏆
New customers only, limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your first bet on any Sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using Cards or Paypal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
⚡️Get up to £100 in Bet Credits⚡️
New Customers only. Up to £100* in Bet Credits. Sign up, deposit £5* or more to your account and bet365 will match your qualifying deposit in Bet Credits when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply.
Claim Bonus
New customers only. Minimum odds 1/5 (1.2). If you place a multiple at least one selection must meet the min odds requirement. Max £20 refund. Only deposits made using Cards or Applepay qualify. Qualifying bet must be placed and settled within 30 days of account opening. T&Cs apply.
Claim Bonus
⚡️ Bet £10 & get 4x £10 FREE BETS! ⚡️
New customers who register via Mobile only, min £10 / €10 stake, win only, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 4 x £10 / €10 (30 day expiry), free bet/payment method/player/country restrictions apply. See full terms below. 18+.
Claim Bonus
🌟 Bet £5 & Get £30 in Bonuses 🌟
18+ New Customers only. Deposit, opt in and place a £5 qualifying bet at odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 2x £10 Free Sports Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days.  Plus a £10 Game Show Bonus, selected games, wager 40x to withdraw a max of £250. PayPal and Card Payments only. Geographical Restrictions and T&Cs Apply. Please Gamble Responsibly.
Claim Bonus
100% Matched Free Bet up to £10!
New UK customers only. £10 Min Deposit. 100% matched free bet on your first deposit of £10. 1 x wagering at odds of 1.75+ to unlock Free Bets. Debit Card & Paypal deposits only. This offer is valid for 7 days from your new account being registered. Full Terms apply.
Claim Bonus
When The Fun Stops. Stop.