Leeds United vs Tottenham Hotspur
So, baby it comes down to this!
The climax of the 2022-23 Premier League season and the only certainty is that there will be tears for some come early Sunday evening.
As it stands now, the odds are stacked against Leeds United.
Although they only survived by the skin of their teeth last term, the prospects looked a lot rosier earlier on this campaign – most notably back in August after a display full of Premier League highlights in which they rolled over Chelsea with ease.
Little did we know then that Chelsea were set to have such a miserable time themselves, or that both clubs would have three different managers each during the course of the season.
And while I expect Sam Allardyce to guide Leeds to victory on Sunday afternoon – this SBOTOP writer believes they would have been safe by now if they had appointed him earlier – I do not think it will be enough to keep them in the top flight.
So, where did it go wrong?
Well hiring Jesse Marsch was always a risk. But to sack him in February and then take weeks to replace him appeared to be another error.
Javi Gracia’s immediate positive impact didn’t last too long and he, respectfully, seemed an odd choice.
Of course, it is easy to say all this in hindsight and there have been memorable days this term.
However, the sobering reality for Leeds United is that relegation on Sunday, if indeed there is no way out, would barely be even the start of it.
The club are all but sunk with one game left, reliant on the biggest stroke of luck they could ask for, and Elland Road can see a monumental summer looming.
The Athletic this week suggested the close-season promises to be manic if Leeds survive and more frantic again should they return to the Championship, heralding changes which have to amount to an almost total reset.
They got away with it last season but very little in their sorry surrender away to West Ham United on Sunday suggested they are about to dodge disaster for a second year running.
Allardyce has a short-term contract that covers one more match. The club has been without a director of football since Victor Orta parted company with them three weeks ago.
The proposed takeover by 49ers Enterprises is still only a proposal. And what of other issues, like the future of individual players, the management of a sizeable Premier League wage bill and the impact of reduced income?
The fact the home side could be without Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo due to injury – the former has had a luckless run in that regard over the past two seasons – merely adds to the woe amongst the home faithful.
Or is there to be one more unexpected twist?
Traditionally these clubs have been well matched and have enjoyed some ding-dong battles.
I can recall an enthralling FA Cup tie a decade ago when Luke Varney and Ross McCormack goals caused a fourth round surprise in a 2-1 win for the hosts at Elland Road.
They had given Spurs a scare in the same competition at the same stage three years earlier when Jermaine Beckford netted twice – including a stoppage time penalty – to earn the then League One side a 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane before Spurs won the replay 3-1 at Elland Road thanks to a Jermain Defoe hat-trick.
That FA Cup win in 2013 is one of only two occasions when Leeds have beaten Spurs in the past 13 attempts.
The other came in this fixture two season ago when Stuart Dallas, Bamford and Rodrigo found the net in a 3-1 win.
Then, like now, Spurs had Ryan Mason in caretaker charge.
After Daniel Levy made a ‘horlicks’ of hiring a full-time replacement, Spurs had another new manager in charge by the time they next met six months later.
On that occasion, Antonio Conte’s first home game in charge saw Spurs win 2-1, courtesy of two goals in 11 minutes from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sergio Reguilón which cancelled out Daniel James’ opener.
When they met three months later in the corresponding fixture, it proved to be a change of helm at Leeds as Marcelo Bielsa was promptly sacked after Spurs ran out 4-0 winners, Matt Doherty, Dejan Kulusekvski, Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min the scorers.
Earlier this season, Rodrigo Bentancur scored twice in the final 10 minutes to snatch a pulsating 4-3 win for the North Londoners.
Kane and Ben Davies were also on target for Spurs who trailed three times after Crysencio Summerville and Rodrigo (two\) had threatened an away win.
Overall, Spurs have beaten Leeds on 40 occasions, Leeds have 33 wins and there have been 29 draws.
The very first meeting between the clubs was in October 1924 when Leeds recorded a 1-0 win.
A rousing Elland Road could be a big advantage for the hosts who must attack in a must-win contest.
Of course, Spurs will also want to finish on a high and keep alive their outside chance of securing a European berth next term.
Or will they – given the Europa Conference is probably a distraction they could do without,
They are priced 1X2 @ 2.33 and Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.12 with the Premier League betting odds with the home side on offer 1X2 @ 2.59 and Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.05.
I do think there will be a few, but not too many goals, which is why Total Goal 0-1 @ 5.20 and 2-3 @ 2.09 have caught my eye, unlike a repeat of the contest last season which sees Correct Score 0-4 on offer @ 80.00.
I am opting for a Leeds win – Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 2.05 as my *** tip, however, I also expect Everton and Leicester City to win to mean their efforts to retain their Premier League status are in vain.
A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:
⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)
⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)
⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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