Leeds United’s current form got me thinking about the fixtures ahead and what the Whites will need to do to ensure they finish in the top 6, while potentially aiming for the top 2. To do that, we’ll need to maintain this form over a long haul: there are still five months left in the 2016/17 season. So, I thought I would break down the rest of Leeds’ fixtures to get a true picture of what may lay ahead for Garry Monk and his men.
In the last 4 seasons, the average amount of points required to finish in the play-off positions was 73. These figures do vary from 68-78 points, and to accumulate an extra 10 points is not an easy feat by any means.
Leeds currently have 32 points after 20 games and have still 75 points available to them (if we won every game). This would give Leeds a total of 110 points. Let’s hit that total and call it a night.
Despite how much I would love for this to happen, the reality is that this is clearly not a realistic target. Therefore, I believe Leeds United’s points target for the season lies around the 78 mark: this total ensured our last Championship play-off appearance in the 2005/06 season.
Consequently, Leeds will need to obtain 46 points from the remaining 25 fixtures. That’s a task I am more than confident that Garry Monk and this Leeds outfit can achieve.
But where will these 46 points come from? Well, here at Through It All Together, we thought we would highlight various upcoming fixtures (subject to change) where these points could be obtained.
We are going to categorise each month into three categories:
Let’s see what the rest of the season holds for Leeds. I’ll give some analysis of each month, and then do a little summary at the end. For the sake of this analysis, we’ll say Leeds start with 29 points, as the 3 points from the win against Villa came in December.
- Brentford at Elland Road
- Preston at Deepdale
The total points still available in December after a win against Villa and a loss to Brighton is 15. With fixtures against teams in and around us to play, I have highlighted these two home matches as ‘must win’ games. If Leeds can secure maximum points against both of these out of form sides, it would go a long way to a successful December.
- Reading at Elland Road
- Aston Villa at Villa Park
Both these games are difficult fixtures, especially when Reading visit on Tuesday night. However, if Leeds can steal a victory against either of these sides, it would be an important win in the grand scheme of the season.
My Predicted December total: 12 points (including the win against Villa at Elland Road)
Total Points at the end of December: 41
- Rotherham at Elland Road
- Nottingham Forest at Elland Road
Once again, I have chosen two fixtures for the ‘must win’ category. Rotherham’s season has been dreadful and I fully expect that to continue when they travel to Leeds on the 2nd of January. Nottingham Forest have had an indifferent campaign so far and I think that this is a match we should be winning at home as well.
- Blackburn at Ewood Park
Blackburn have started to pick up points, and I believe this will continue throughout January. I expect this to be a hard game but we should be beating teams like Blackburn if we want to succeed.
I’d take a Point
- Derby at Elland Road
- Barnsley at Oakwell
After a slow start, Derby are right back in the mix for the play-offs. We usually struggle against the Rams and I would be happy to get a point and move on. Barnsley away is always a difficult fixture and, taking everything into account, I expect that we may struggle against the Tykes and give me an unhappy birthday present.
My Predicted January total: 7 points
Total Points at the end of January: 48
- Cardiff at Elland Road
- Bristol City at Elland Road
- Sheffield Wednesday at Elland Road
February is when the season really starts to hit 5th gear and, if Leeds are to grab a place in the top 6, a decent February is a must. I have listed every home match in February as the ‘Must Win’ column as, without solid home form at this stage of the season, we could start to drop down the league rapidly.
- Huddersfield at John Smith's
- Ipswich at Portman Road
Like I said, February is an important month, and therefore I expect us to pick up as many points as possible: that means winning at least either at Huddersfield or Ipswich.
I expect February to be a defining time in the season for Leeds, especially after the transfer window, and therefore wouldn't settle for any draws. We need these points.
My Predicted February total: 12 points
Total Points at the end of February: 60
- QPR at Elland Road
March is the hardest month for Leeds, with some very tricky away fixtures at the beginning of the month. The home fixture against QPR is a game which we will absolutely need to win. The game arrives after the away games and just might be the saving grace in March.
- Fulham at Craven Cottage
The Fulham game is currently - on paper - the easier of the remaining fixtures in March and Leeds can definitely go there and nick the points. However, Fulham have a decent squad and their league position could look very different in a few weeks time.
I’d take a Point
- Birmingham at St. Andrews
- Brighton at Elland Road
Both these fixtures will be tough, as both Birmingham and Brighton will most likely be still involved in the race for promotion. If we can pick up a point against these sides I would call that a successful day.
My Predicted March total: 5 points
Total Points at the end of March: 65
- Preston at Elland Road
- Wolves at Elland Road
- Burton at Pirelli
Leeds will still require 13 points (to reach my target of 78 points) and April is the month where we usually see the true contenders shine through. If we are to be true contenders, 9 points from these fixtures is a must, and I expect Leeds to make a statement in April and win all three games.
- Brentford at Griffin Park
- Norwich at Elland Road
If Leeds do win the three ‘must win’ games in April, they will be very close to finishing in the play-offs - a win against either of these sides will just push us to within touching distance of the 78 mark. Neither is an easy task, but if Leeds are still applying themselves to the same standard they are currently, then anything is possible.
I’d take a Point
- Reading at Madejski Stadium
- Newcastle at St James’s Park
If current form is any indicator, Reading and Newcastle will have confirmed their place at least in the play-off positions. Both these away fixtures are difficult places to visit, so anything from either game would be a bonus.
My Predicted April total: 13 points
Total Points at the end of April: 78
Wigan at DW stadium
By the time we travel to Wigan, we should have confirmed our place within the play-off positions. However, where you finish can count for a lot come the 2-legged semi-final. We need to beat Wigan and get 81 points to ensure a strong finish to the season.
My Predicted May total: 3 points
My Predicted End-of-Season Total for Leeds United: 81 points
My hopeful target was 78 points and, with an honest look at the rest of season, I reached 81 points. That’s promising.
81 points would be an amazing achievement and would definitely see Leeds fighting in the play-offs for a place in the Premier League, with an outside chance at finishing in the top 2. Obviously, the Championship is not this black and white but, looking at the quality and team spirit within this group of players, I believe that anything is possible.
Predictions are fun, but for now, I suppose all we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride as we go... Through It All Together. MOT.