Chris Woods has his sights set on Newcastle United after Leeds closed in further on the Magpies.
Almost unnoticed, Leeds United have now put themselves in position as possibly the biggest threat to both Newcastle and Brighton, the bookies still make the top two long odds-on favourites to finish top two but Leeds are now third favourites in behind them.
I watched the match last night and whilst the final scoreline might have only been 1-0, the truth is that Leeds absolutely battered Derby County from the first whistle and should have won by four or five.
BBC Sport showed the stats as being: shots 21 v 6, shots on target 8 v 1, corners 16 v 3.
If I’m honest I have to say that Leeds gave the kind of high energy, getting right on top of the opposition, performance that has been sadly lacking recently for Newcastle. The last one I remember is the home match with Birmingham when NUFC were right at them from the start and blew them away 4-0 – then Birmingham Manager Gary Rowett admitting afterwards that his players just couldn’t cope with Newcastle’s intensity.
It was Chris Wood who supplied the winner last night and he now has 17 goals for the season, 14 in the league from 22 Championship starts (plus three from the bench).
Chris Wood speaking to LUTV after the win over Derby:
“We can look up at Newcastle and Brighton now.
“As it stands we are now only four points behind them.
“We will have a day off and then get in and work hard to be ready for the weekend.”
This is how the table now looks for this afternoon’s games:
54 Brighton (Played 24)
52 Newcastle (Played 25)
48 Leeds (Played 26)
46 Reading (Played 25)
46 Huddersfield (Played 25)
42 Sheff Wed (Played 25)
40 Derby (played 26)
No reason to panic and to an extent Newcastle (and the other clubs) couldn’t really lose last night, with Derby’s momentum now halted/slowed down, Steve McClaren’s team now 12 points behind Newcastle having played a game more.
However, you still have to acknowledge that Leeds United are now looking a realistic threat and Newcastle need to get back into form and winning ways.
Since Newcastle won at Elland Road less than two months ago (20 November 2016), Leeds have gained ten points on Newcastle (before taking this afternoon’s Brentford result into account), to stand only four points behind.
Newcastle have won five and lost four of their nine Championship matches since beating Leeds 2-0, whilst the Yorkshire club have won seven and only lost to Brighton, plus a draw at Villa (Leeds denied by a late penalty).
In fact, in the last 12 league games, Leeds have won nine, drawn one, and only lost to Newcastle and Brighton.
This is a really strange league, as when Newcastle visited, Leeds looked really really poor, a totally different outfit to what I saw last night against Derby.
Whether they gave Newcastle too much respect, or whether NUFC are a real class act when they do turn it on and don’t give the opposition a sniff, is open to interpretation.
Only answer is for Newcastle United to step it up again and let the teams below fight it out for the play-off spots.