Leeds United

Leeds United

Premier League • England

Gary Lineker, Martin Keown blame Bielsa factor for Leeds relegation state as another star is ruled out against Brighton

Raphinha, Kalvin Phillips, Jack Harrison, Leeds United, during the Premier League game v Chelsea at Elland Road

Match of the Day pundits Gary Lineker and Martin Keown both feel the relegation writing is on the wall for Leeds United after Wednesday’s difficult 3-0 home defeat to Chelsea.

The Whites dropped into the relegation zone on Sunday following a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal. That defeat, coupled with Everton’s win at Leicester, saw the Whites fall into the bottom three for the first time all season. And their fears were exasperated on Wednesday night as Thomas Tuchel’s side recorded a comfortable win at Elland Road.

That means Leeds have now suffered three straight defeats – and now face a must-win clash against Brighton on Sunday afternoon.

Assessing their prospects, both Lineker and Keown believe a return to the second tier is likely for Leeds United.

And the pair claim the damaging goal difference Leeds have could well prove their undoing. The side received a number of heavy beatings under former manager Marcelo Bielsa, with the club 20-0 down in games against Liverpool and Manchester City alone.

The 77 goals they have conceded this season gives them a goal difference of -38. That is significantly worse than the two teams they are looking to overhaul in Burnley (-17) and Everton (-19). United have also played one game more than their rivals.

“There’s the points table. I mean, it’s quite an incredible goal difference [for] Leeds compared to the other two but fixtures-wise, Burnley have got tough fixtures,” said Lineker told BBC1’s Match of the Day.

“How do you see it Martin, who’s going to go down?”

Leeds relegation expected

Keown said: “I’m thinking Leeds are going to slip through, they’ve lost the last three.

“Burnley have won three of the last four and Everton have won two of the last three so I think that’s a really valuable point for Frank Lampard [against Watford].”

Looking ahead to the Brighton game, Lineker then added: “Leeds need to win to have a chance, do you think?”

Ashley Williams then offered his thoughts on the Whites, saying: “I think it’s just a bit too far for them now. I fancy Everton and Burnley to stay up.”

Jack Harrison adds to Leeds selection issues

Leeds, meanwhile, look likely to be without Jack Harrison for Sunday’s must-win game against the Seagulls.

The winger hobbled off in the defeat to Chelsea after just 37 minutes, with Junior Firpo coming on in his place.

Looking towards Sunday, The Athletic’s Phil Hay claims Harrison “is probably beyond Marsch’s reach for the meeting with Brighton”.

With Dan James seeing red and Raphinha also feeling his hamstring, Leeds may end up taking on Brighton without any wingers in their side.

A fourth option, Crysencio Summerville, is also out for the season.

 

Leeds’ squad now looks seriously depleted. With Stuart Dallas suffering a broken leg, Adam Forshaw a fractured knee cap and Luke Ayling also banned, Leeds are struggling badly.

It would be easy to think they’re doomed to relegation this season and it will take an almighty effort for Leeds to survive.

And relegation may even be confirmed on Sunday were Burnley to win at Tottenham and Leeds lose to Brighton.

Jesse Marsch, meanwhile, has revealed the survival hurting Leeds – but is refusing to throw the towel in.