Exciting times for Leeds United as crunch Christmas period awaits

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    LEEDS, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08: Kemar Roofe of Leeds United is congratulated on scoring his second goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road on December 08, 2018 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

    Norwich City have won 12 of their last 15 games and are unbeaten in eight games, an astonishing run of form that has catapulted them to the top of the Championship almost under the radar given their early-season form.

    Yet, Leeds United are lurking just one point behind in second despite Daniel Farke’s team being the standout performers in the division based on current form. 

    LEEDS, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 08: Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road on December 8, 2018 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

    Marcelo Bielsa will be more than content with his team’s position right now, especially considering his side has now won four games in a row. Without being spectacular, his side has delivered the perfect response to the drubbing at the Hawthorns where West Brom’s counterattacking pace proved too much. 

    Conceding just one goal in the ensuing four matches is a testament to the manager’s methods and the resilience of this team to shake-off past failures by putting them firmly behind them.

    LEEDS, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 08: A general view of the ‘Billy Bremner’ Statue ahead of the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road on December 08, 2018 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

    With a testing Christmas period coming up, it is clear Leeds are not going to be relinquishing their automatic promotion position without a real fight. That this side has more of a backbone compared to previous seasons is unquestionably evident for all to see.

    Even with an ever-growing injury list, Bielsa has repeatedly kept faith in the players he has at his disposal, including those stepping up from the academy. 

    Such calmness from the manager must be incredibly morale-boosting for his squad as they know a man who has practically seen it all in the game backs them to succeed. 

    LEEDS, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 08: Kemar Roofe of Leeds United scores his second goal from the penalty spot during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road on December 08, 2018 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

    Leeds currently sit in second with 42 points. This time last season, Kemar Roofe scored a hat trick as Leeds won 3-1 at QPR, but they were nine points behind their current tally of points. 

    Step back a further season before and Garry Monk’s Leeds were fourth in the table with 32 points as this stage. Progress is undoubtedly  being made and the club are moving ever closer to the Premier League. 

    QPR manager Steve McClaren believes Leeds are in a good position right now, and a surefire sign that Bielsa’s side are going well is that they are finding a way to win football matches, irrespective of how pretty it is. 

    Leeds have won their last four games without being clear-cut or extravagant. All that matters is they are grinding out three points at the moment. Three of the last four games have been won by the odd goal. 

    LEEDS, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 08: Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips applauds the fans after the match during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road on December 8, 2018 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

     Speaking after the match at Elland Road on Saturday, McClaren said: “I think they won ugly today and that’s what you need to do when you’re going for promotion. 

    “There’s a lot of big clubs and only three can go up. There will be a lot of disappointed clubs with big expectations that won’t make it.

    “But Leeds are going to be up there without a shadow of a doubt.”

    Three clean-sheets out of four certainly backs up McClaren’s view, which epitomises what doing well in the Championship is all about.

    Consistency is key, especially during the heavy festive schedule.

    If Leeds can pick up points at the likes of Aston Villa in the same unspectacular way that they did against fellow contenders Sheffield United , and keep their composure and calm at home to teams like Hull City, then Bielsa’s side really are going to be well-set. 

    LEEDS, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 08: Leeds United’s Barry Douglas prepares to take a corner during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road on December 8, 2018 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

    Hull are an example of an opponent who will try and get bodies behind the ball and frustrate the home crowd, but Leeds will just have to stick to what they have done so well.

    Patience and possession have been key characteristics of the side in recent weeks, and will need to be maintained.