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Leeds United took another big step towards securing a Sky Bet Championship play-off spot, with a 2-0 win against Brighton & Hove Albion, on Saturday night. And it was one man who was behind that crucial win as he has been for most of the season, Chris Wood.
The New Zealand international has been a standout star for Leeds this season and looks like he could be key for the Whites if they are to elevate themselves back to the Premier League. After two more goals against the Seagulls over the weekend, he pulled further away from Newcastle United’s Dwight Gayle at the top of the goal-scoring charts. Wood now has 24 strikes in the Championship this season, his best ever return in his professional career.
He may not be the most stylish player on the field, but Wood’s old-fashioned style of forward play has benefited Leeds hugely this term, allowing them to play the ball long and rely on the big man to hold the ball and bring others into play.
Over the years, throughout his career, being in clinical in front of goal is something that has been held against Wood and has been under scrutiny everywhere. And the questions weren’t really unfounded considering that he hasn’t been the most prolific in front of goals at any of his previous sides.
However, this season he has managed to put those demons to bed, scoring 27 goals in 40 games in all competitions. His overall record for Leeds is also impressive, having netted 40 goals in 70 games for the Yorkshire-based club. At Leeds, Wood looks like he has found a settled home.
The former Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion man has also managed to get 56% of his attempted shots on target. Among the top five strikers in the Championship this season in terms of goals, only Dwight Gayle and Jonathan Kodija have a better shot accuracy than Wood. This indicates that he has found his clinical touch in front of goal.
The fact that Wood has now scored against 18 different teams in league competition this season – most in the top four tiers of English football, drives home the impact that he has had for Leeds this season and the major player he has been for Garry Monk.
Leeds now sit fourth in the Championship, breathing down the neck of fellow promotion chasers Huddersfield Town who suffered a 4-0 loss to Bristol City earlier this week. The Terriers are two points ahead of Monk’s men and have a game in hand, but Leeds will continue to pile the pressure on. And, it will be that man, Wood, who will lead the charge for Leeds, as they hunt down promotion back to the Premier League for the first time since being relegated to Championship in 2003-04.