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Season Review: Leeds United Survive to Fight For Another Premier League Campaign

After an outstanding comeback season in the Premier League in 202-21, Leeds United caught the second season syndrome in 2021-22. It was a more challenging season for the Whites as they found themselves at the wrong end of the table more often than not. It was all set up for a climactic final matchday where Leeds United needed to win their away match at Brentford and needed Newcastle to beat Burnley. It all went to plan for Jesse Marsch’s team as they lived to fight for another season in the Premier League.

Here we look at how the 2021-22 season panned out for the Peacocks in our season review.

 

A TOUGH START

Leeds headed into the 2021-22 campaign with plenty of optimism after a top half finish in the previous season. There were talks about trying to push for a European spot in the season but what followed couldn’t have been predicted by the fans.

They didn’t have a big transfer window ahead of the season. They brought in Junior Firpo from Barcelona as the only headline signing. Leeds got off to a disappointing start with a heavy 5-1 defeat away at Manchester United on the opening day. Just three victories in their next 13 matches followed with Leeds hovering just above the relegation zone. During this run, they were also knocked out by Arsenal in the fourth round of the EFL Cup.

 

INJURY-LADDEN SEASON

Injuries were a major cause for concern for Leeds throughout the campaign, as striker Patrick Bamford, who had netted 17 Premier League goals the season before, was sidelined for long periods with several problems.

Their injury woes worsened towards Christmas as star midfielder Kalvin Phillips and club captain Liam Cooper both sustained hamstring injuries during a 2-2 draw at home to Brentford. During that match, Bamford returned from his long layoff only to net a last-minute equaliser and get injured during the celebration. He went on to miss the next twelve matches after that celebration.

 

ADIOS, MARCELO!

Three successive defeats to Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, including a heavy 7-0 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium, kept the Whites precariously positioned in the league table at the end of 2021.

However, Leeds made a bright start to the New Year with back-to-back league victories against Burnley and West Ham United. However, the Whites were knocked out by the Hammers in the FA Cup third round earlier that week. A run of five defeats and one draw in their next six matches between January 22 and February 26, in which they conceded a total of 21 goals, brought an end to Marcelo Bielsa’s three-and-a-half-year reign, with the 66-year-old leaving the club just two points above the relegation zone.

Bielsa left behind a beautiful legacy at the club and we witnessed a sad send off for the legendary figure.

 

WELCOME, JESSE!

Less than 24 hours after relieving the Argentine of his duties, Leeds announced the appointment of Jesse Marsch. The American had a solid CV coming into the job but the challenge to keep Leeds in the Premier League for another season was easily the biggest one of his career.

His first two games in charge saw the Whites lose to Leicester City and Aston Villa by an aggregate score of 4-0. However, Marsch managed to make his mark as they accumulated 11 points during a five-game unbeaten run, including three wins against Norwich, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Watford, which moved them five points clear of the drop zone.

What followed was a tricky spell of fixtures for the Whites as they sustained successive defeats to Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. During this period, difficulties kept following Leeds as versatile player Stuart Dallas injured himself in the City game and was ruled out of the season. While Dallas’ injury was unfortunate, Leeds did themselves no favours with Luke Ayling and Daniel James getting red cards in the first half of the matches against Arsenal and Chelsea.

These three defeats coincided with an upturn in form for relegation rivals Burnley and Everton, who both climbed above the Whites to safety, leaving Marsch’s men in 18th, one point behind the Clarets, with just two games remaining. After a 1-1 draw at home to Brighton & Hove Albion, Leeds headed into the final day needing to better Burnley’s result against Newcastle United to avoid relegation.

Most people expected Leeds to go down going into the final day especially away at Brentford, a club that would love to see the Peacocks back in the Championship. It was a hard-fought performance by the Whites as they emerged winners with an injury-time winner by Jack Harrison, and soon news of Burnley falling to Newcastle swept the stadium and it was time to celebrate. The scenes of the Leeds players celebrating at the away end of the stadium with their travelling fans will go down as one of the most iconic moments from the season. The pure scenes of jubilation and their leading goalscorer Raphinha getting in amongst the fans to celebrate were brilliant.

Leeds United live to fight for another season but there’s plenty of work to be done before the start of the new one. They need to strengthen the squad and make sure their star players stay at the club for longer.

 

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