Starting the final day in the relegation zone, Leeds United’s fate is out of their own hands as they prepare for battle with Brentford on Sunday afternoon.
The Whites sit behind Burnley on goal difference, while Thomas Frank’s side are enjoying a cruise to the finish line having secured their Premier League status.
Starting and ending the season with a flourish, Brentford’s mid-season period of dismal fortunes briefly threatened their spot in the big time, but the Bees have been a very welcome addition to the Premier League and are in no mood to drop back down the divisions.
Twice Thomas Frank’s side found themselves behind against Everton through Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, and twice they responded against the nine-man Toffees through Seamus Coleman’s own goal and Yoane Wissa before Rico Henry headed home straight after the latter’s equaliser in a pulsating comeback win.
Posting a hugely impressive seven victories from their last 10 in the division means that Brentford are sitting pretty in 11th and still have a chance of breaking into the top 10 above Brighton & Hove Albion, while Leicester City will also be there for the taking if a major swing in goal difference occurs.
While watching their fellow newly-promoted sides in Watford and Norwich City make an immediate return to the second division, Brentford have made a name for themselves in the Premier League and have taken 10 points from the last 12 on offer at home.
Furthermore, Frank’s side have kept four successive clean sheets in their four-game unbeaten run at the Brentford Community Stadium – they are also one of only six sides to have let in fewer than 20 goals on their own turf – so the travelling Leeds faithful cannot be feeling overly optimistic about their side’s survival chances this weekend.
Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch celebrates after the match on April 9, 2022© Reuters
Nails were being bitten hard across Yorkshire as Burnley attempted to boost their survival hopes against Aston Villa while simultaneously damaging Leeds’, and the Clarets’ midweek point has handed them the initiative ahead of Sunday’s packed schedule.
Jesse Marsch’s Whites left it late to gain a potentially priceless point themselves against Brighton last weekend, as Pascal Struijk’s 92nd-minute leveller cancelled out Danny Welbeck’s opener, and a third successive season of Premier League football is still a distinct possibility.
Burnley – who face Newcastle United at Turf Moor – simply need to match or better Leeds’ result to stay up, but a dissatisfactory result for the Clarets will open the door for Marsch’s side to finish 17th, and news of the game in Lancashire is sure to filter down to the players on the pitch.
However, the stalemate with Brighton stretched Leeds’ winless run in the Premier League to five matches, although their only defeat in their last four away from home came against Arsenal, and even then they threatened the unlikeliest of comebacks while playing with 10 men.
Leeds and Brentford played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Elland Road back in December, but it has been 10 years since a newly-promoted side won a final-day game in the Premier League, and the visiting fans will be pining for any positive statistics they can find while their players scrap for survival for 90 more minutes.