By Daniel Lewis

21st Nov, 2023 | 3:10pm

Leeds United given renewed hope of pipping Leicester City or Ipswich Town to automatic promotion

Leeds United may be eight points adrift of the automatic promotion spots as we gear up for the return of Championship action, but new data has emerged that suggests they still have a shot at going straight back up.

According to the Opta Analyst [21 November], top-two sides Leicester City and Ipswich Town have “significantly outperformed their expected points totals” across their opening 16 matches this season.

While that may not mean a great deal on the face of it, it does provide hope that their results will soon start reflecting performances – i.e. they will not pick up points as freely as they have done so far.

Or as they had done, should that say, as Leicester lost back-to-back games prior to the international break – including a loss at the hands of Leeds – while Ipswich have won just one out of their past four.

Leicester may have had a tough run, but certainly in Ipswich’s case, it already looks as though consistent wins are turning into more occasional losses and draws.

Leeds, by comparison, have won six of their past seven matches to close that gap on the automatic promotion spots to eight points with two-thirds of the season still to go.

While that winning run is not really sustainable from United’s perspective, Opta Analyst points out that they “have accrued a points tally that matches that of their performances on the pitch”.

All this is well and good, but Ipswich and Leicester will rightly point out that points on the board are all that matter, regardless of how you go about picking them up.

But in the same way that expected goals returns provide a good indicator of how a team is actually performing – whether doing better or worse – you would expect the points tallies to come more in line with what is happening on the field.

Basically, Leeds must just keep doing what they have been doing for the past six weeks or so and be ready to pounce as Leicester – or more likely Ipswich – stumble.

The Whites may have been playing catch-up due to a slow start to the campaign, but with return games against Ipswich and Leicester still to come, there is every hope of overhauling one of the two come May.

In other Leeds United news, Fabrizio Romano has shared whether a first-team player could be snapped up by a Premier League team in January.