Preview: Leeds United vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Preview: Leeds United vs. Tottenham Hotspur

A pivotal final-day Premier League showdown takes place in front of the raucous Elland Road faithful on Sunday afternoon as Leeds United host Tottenham Hotspur.

The Whites simply need to win and hope for results elsewhere to go in their favour to save their top-flight bacon, while Ryan Mason’s side are in a three-horse race with Aston Villa and Brentford for a spot in the Europa Conference League.

Taking on a West Ham United side fatigued from their continental commitments, Leeds took a giant step above the dotted line when a sumptuous Rodrigo finish broke the deadlock at the London Stadium last weekend, but Sam Allardyce’s men were quickly dragged back into the doldrums.

Declan Rice restored parity for the Hammers just after the half-hour mark, before Jarrod Bowen just about kept himself onside to poke home, and Manuel Lanzini put the cherry on the icing on the cake for the Europa Conference League finalists in added time to leave Leeds on the brink of demotion.

While showing plenty of fight in their defeat to Manchester City and draw with Newcastle United, Leeds have failed to do the most important thing in a relegation dogfight – put points on the board – and their fate lies out of their own hands with just 90 minutes left on the clock.

Sitting 19th in the table – level on points with Leicester City and two adrift of Everton – only victory will do for Leeds if they are to give themselves a chance of staying up, while they must simultaneously pray for West Ham to at least hold Leicester to a draw and for Bournemouth to beat Everton at Goodison Park.

Breaching opposing defences has not been the root of Leeds’ problems, as the Whites have made the net ripple in each of their last 12 Premier League affairs, but they have failed to keep a clean sheet in an unlucky 13 straight matches and will need more than good fortune to salvage their top-flight status now.

An identical defeat for Tottenham at home to London rivals Brentford last weekend was another blot on the Lilywhites’ notebook amid a truly forgettable season, one which could end with the North London club failing to qualify for European competition altogether.

A rocket of a strike from Harry Kane broke the deadlock at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but after Mason’s side had missed a succession of chances to double their advantage, Bryan Mbeumo’s brace and a late Yoane Wissa strike condemned Spurs to another home humbling.

Holding a muted end-of-season awards ceremony immediately after that defeat – in front of thousands of empty seats – comically summed up Tottenham’s woeful few months since the turn of the year, and as is the case with their hosts, the outcome of Spurs’ season rests on results elsewhere this weekend.

Occupying eighth place in the table – one point behind seventh-placed Aston Villa and one better off than Brentford – Tottenham will sneak into the Europa Conference League spot with a win, and given that the Lilywhites share a +4 goal difference with Villa, a draw would suffice if the Lions lose at home to Brighton & Hove Albion.

Not every Lilywhites fan will be jumping for joy at the thought of another Conference League run, though, and Mason takes his side to Elland Road on the back of a horrendous nine-game winless run on the road since a 3-0 FA Cup beating of Preston North End in January.

Leeds took the lead three times at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium earlier this season, but the Whites’ efforts were ultimately in vain in a 4-3 defeat. One can expect another glut of goals here, but too many flying past Joel Robles in the Leeds goal could spell the end of the hosts’ short-lived Premier League homecoming.

Leeds United Premier League form:

Tottenham Hotspur Premier League form:

We say: Leeds United 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Had Leeds come into Sunday’s game with a clean bill of health, we would not have put it past the Whites to pull off a final-day miracle, but lingering concerns over Bamford and Rodrigo coupled with their existing injuries could prove to be their downfall.

Spurs are no tough nut to crack themselves, though, and Allardyce’s side should breach the Lilywhites’ lacklustre backline a couple of times, but Mason’s wealth of attacking options can strike back to condemn their hosts to the drop and give themselves a fighting chance of Conference League qualification.

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