The race to avoid relegation to the Premier League has seen several twists and turns over the past two months with changes in direction and surprise results leading to dramatic changes in fortune.
Just a few weeks ago Leeds were 10-1 for the fall following their 3-0 win over Watford but are now 13-10 favorites to join the Hornets and have relegated Norwich to the bottom three.
The recent improvement in the form of the teams downstairs means that the number of points required to stay up has risen to 38 or 39 depending on the betting companies and the schedule of the Elland Road team – they face the four best prospects Arsenal and Chelsea in their next two matches. – explains why they are most supposed to be missed.
Leeds finished ninth under Marcelo Bielsa last season and, as the attached chart shows, they weren’t seen as serious relegation contenders at the start of the season.
However, brutal luck with injuries and a string of heavy defeats in tough matches saw Bielsa replaced by Jesse Marsch at the end of February.
Things have improved under Marsch, who has taken 11 points in eight games or 1.38 points per game, compared to 0.88 under Bielsa this season.
Leeds scored at exactly the same rate under both managers – 1.12 goals per game – but a tighter formation allowed them to tighten up at the back, conceding 1.5 goals per game under Marsch, compared to 2.31 ( the worst in the divisions) under Bielsa.
Despite those improvements, Leeds needed a 94th-minute winner to beat bottom-running club Norwich on March 13 and all their goals in the 3-2 win over Wolves, including another stoppage-time winner. , came after their opponents had been reduced to ten men.
Since Marsch took control, Leeds have had the third-easiest set of games based on their opponents’ average league position.
Last weekend’s 4-0 loss to Manchester City meant they lost all ten of their matches to the ‘big six’ by an aggregate score of 42-7, which is a worrying sign given their difficult run-in.
One silver lining on that front is that the game against Chelsea comes just three days before the Blues’ FA Cup final against Liverpool, so they may not be full.
Leeds’ last two games against Brighton and Brentford are likely to be crucial and they will be hoping striker Patrick Bamford can follow fellow England international Kalvin Phillips after injury which would significantly increase the squad’s cap.
Everton were 80-1 for the fall in early October after picking up 14 points in their first seven games, but things quickly unraveled under Rafa Benitez and they were four points above the relegation zone and 9 -2 to go down when Frank Lampard took over in January.
The Toffees’ points per game and underlying numbers have remained level under their new boss, but their performance has been wildly patchy.
They have looked into the abyss twice – they were 11-10 down after losing 3-2 to Burnley last month and were bets ahead of last weekend’s games – but produced a response each time with surprise victories over Manchester United and Chelsea.
Everton are going through the toughest part of their schedule, but their 13 points earned under Lampard arrived at Goodison Park and that will have to change.
They have conceded 17 goals in six league appearances on the road under the former Chelsea boss, although their next away trips look less daunting. On Sunday they face a Leicester side who traveled to Rome in the Europa Conference League on Thursday night, then they face Watford, who may well be mathematically down by then.
Burnley caused a lot of consternation when they sacked long-serving manager Sean Dyche last month. It was a final roll of the dice as they were four points from safety and 4-11 to go down at the time.
Dyche had beaten well above the resources given to him for many seasons but, although the Clarets have always been competitive this term, they were not picking up wins often enough to get out of trouble.
They have won their last three games under interim boss Mike Jackson, having played 23 games to record their first three wins of the season.
Those recent wins have come against Southampton, Wolves and Watford and Burnley’s run-in includes two games against Aston Villa and one against Newcastle, neither of which apparently have much to play for.
Dyche may have felt he had earned the opportunity to lead the club to these softer encounters, but the board clearly believed that making the switch, capitalizing on the ‘new manager’s bounce’ and a change mentality, would give them a better chance of making draws. in victories.
Under Dyche, Burnley have collected 0.95 points per game against teams outside the big six, but they have collected ten points in four such games under Jackson.
A wider approach means the Clarets have posted 1.0 or more expected goals in all four matches, which they have only done 50% of the time under Dyche against similar opposition, and they are scoring in average 1.5 goals per game under their keeper. boss, up 1.1 against teams not in the top six.
It’s a run that has given them control of their own destiny – but fair – and the results of the past two weeks suggest there could be more twists to come in this enthralling relegation.
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FIRST PUBLICATION AT 12:10 PM, MAY 5, 2022