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Having looked certain to be in the playoffs just a few weeks ago, Leeds United now look to have blown their chance and seem likely to miss out on a chance to bag the final promotion place to the Premier League.
Despite good performances from the Leeds squad this term, striker Chris Wood and his 25 Championship goals have been the main reason why Leeds reached the heights they did – occupying 3rd place for a while, behind Newcastle and Brighton.
Between New Year and early March, when he was not involved in Leeds’ game at Fulham, Wood bagged 11 league goals in 11 games. During that time, Leeds won 7 and drew 1 of their 11 games accumulating 22 points; which averages 2 points per game. Since then, Wood has scored 4 goals in 9 games, a period which has seen Leeds win 2 and draw 3 accumulating just 9 points, which is 1 per game.
Despite claims from many fans that Leeds do not rely on Wood, pointing to the times this season when Wood has not played and the team have still won, the real evidence doesn’t support this. Wood has only missed 2 Championship games this season, a win and a draw, so there is insufficient evidence to prove their case.
More strikingly, Wood has scored in 21 individual league games this season, 16 of which Leeds went on to win and 4 of which they drew. When Wood has scored, Leeds have gained 52 points from 22 games (2.36 per game). When Wood has failed to score, Leeds’ record changes to 21 games played, 5 won, 3 drawn and 13 lost. Just 0.86 points per game have been accrued during these games.
This shows that when Wood is off form (or the opposition have sufficiently shackled him), Leeds’ overall ability is drastically reduced. Picking one particular example of a) how good Wood is and b) how much Leeds need him; we can look at their draw at Newcastle over Easter.
Newcastle should have had that game won, though the score line was narrow at 1-0 after 90 minutes. The game went, rather cruelly for Newcastle, into a 6th minute of added time which was perhaps a mistake from the match officials. In other words, Wood’s scoring chance should never have come. Furthermore, at that time, Wood was given too much space by Jamaal Lascelles, something the striker can do nothing about.
Wood gratefully accepted these gifts and needed just one excellent touch to score and give Leeds a draw. Garry Monk desperately needs chances to be created for Wood to be at his best in the coming weeks, if they stand any chance of keeping their play-off hopes alive.