Will Rodrigo’s injury return be Leeds’ last hope for avoiding relegation?

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Leeds is one point above the relegation zone after winning only one of their previous 12 league games. Since the beginning of the season, they have won only 5 matches, lost 13, and ended 8 in draws, the last being against Brighton on March 11. With only 12 more matches, Leeds depends on Rodrigo’s return to turn the tables around and avoid the Premier League’s relegation.

The 31-year-old suffered a bone and ligament injury to his ankle in Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round win against Accrington Stanley. To that effect, the club issued a statement saying the player had undergone minor surgery but that the staff at Thorp Arch is “confident” that he will be ready to play by the end of March. Rodrigo has scored twelve goals in 22 games for Leeds this season, making him the team’s leading scorer. Of those twelve goals, ten were in 18 Premier League games and two in three FA Cup games.

Rodrigo’s absence has undoubtedly affected the team’s performance so far. The question is, “Will Rodrigo’s injury return be enough to save them from relegation?” We shall explore more how his absence has affected Leeds, other players who have underperformed, and how he will fare in the relegation battle.


Rodrigo’s absence decreases Leeds’ attacking quality

After his injury in Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup match against Accrington Stanley, Rodrigo was expected to miss two months of games. Doctors at Thorp Arch were optimistic that Rodrigo would return to the field by the end of March following his minor surgery. Thankfully, he made an early comeback on Saturday when he came off the bench and replaced Patrick Bamford in the 2-2 draw with Brighton.

However, before his comeback, Marsch had been sacked, Leeds had fallen almost to the bottom of the Premier League table, and the team’s goal output had dried up. Currently, Rodrigo is Javi Gracia’s best shot at providing the goals that Leeds desperately needs.

Rodrigo scored 35 goals and added 23 assists across 141 league games for Valencia before joining Leeds United in August 2020. On October 3 that year, he scored his first goal for Leeds, helping them to a 1-1 home league tie against Manchester City. After missing time early in 2021 with a groin injury, Marcelo Bielsa used him sparingly after his return. However, he finished the season on a high note, scoring a brace in the club’s 4-0 away win over Burnley on May 15. In his debut season, he scored seven times, with four tallies coming in the season’s final four games.

Crucial players under-performed in important games

Despite Leeds’s current descending position, bettors have high hopes that the club will save its name and remain in the EPL. You can find odds for this event at new brands and its other established gambling sites. However, before backing these odds, you should note that a few players have contributed to the club’s low position by performing differently than expected. These include:

Jack Harrison

In February, when Leeds United was defeated by Everton, Jack Harrison delivered his worst performance for the club. Against Everton, the Englishman played woefully, completing only 46% of his passes, being dispossessed 24 times, and winning only one of his eight duels before being taken out in the 86th minute. He underperformed in the match against Chelsea, as he rarely participated in the advancements.

Late in the January transfer window, Leeds turned down a £20 million offer for Harrison. However, Harrison has failed to live up to the club’s high expectations since remaining at Elland Road. Though he managed to bag a goal in the match against Brighton, Harrison’s poor performance has contributed to the team’s descending position in the Premier League table.

Patrick Bamford

Patrick Bamford has had a good career in the league and plays a huge role in their attacking line-up. However, the past couple of seasons has been challenging for him. Besides enduring different injuries, which also caused him to be absent from Leeds match against Chelsea on March 4, he has not played his best in several matches, including against Everton.

Bamford began the game for Leeds, but the striker performed poorly. Former Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood remarked that Bamford was a shell of his former self in Leeds’ loss to Everton. The English striker struggled to create an impact inside the penalty area and did not threaten the Everton centre-backs much.

The EPL relegation battle would be action-packed

While some teams are vying for the top spot in the EPL, others just hope they don’t remain at the dreaded bottom of the table, where they face relegation. Leeds is one such team. Besides the talk of dropping Jack Harrison for his poor performance, the team has had to deal with injured players, which contributed to a terrible season.

Being demoted would have far too many drawbacks. For each participating club, simply being a part of the Premier League entails a significant financial benefit. Teams that are forced to drop into the Championship can only hope that their parachute payment will be enough to keep competitive players while they reorganise and get ready to try to get promoted.

That is why Leeds and other teams at the bottom struggle to avoid relegation. Leeds would need more than Rodrigo’s injury return to climb the points table. They currently have 23 points and need more than 17 more to get out of the relegation zone. Even if they end all twelve remaining matches in draws (which is very unlikely), they won’t have enough points to make it; they need to score more goals.

Leeds is up against Wolves this weekend, a match where they have a good chance of scoring if they do the work. They have a good chance of scoring against Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest, but scoring against Liverpool and Manchester City will be tough.

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