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Assessing the Championship's four-way battle for automatic promotion
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Adam Drury
Daniel Farke has led Leeds to nine straight league wins
Daniel Farke has led Leeds to nine straight league wins

Leeds beating Leicester 3-1 on Friday evening both improves their chances of Championship promotion and opens up a four-horse race for the two automatic spots.

The Foxes have cruised through much of this season but have lost back-to-back games are now just six points clear of third-place Ipswich after back-to-back defeats.

Kieran McKenna's Tractor Boys are in good form, while Southampton have stumbled but remain in the mix.

We analyse the runners and riders in what looks set to be a nail-biting finale.

Foxes fumbling

In the truest example of a six-pointer, Leicester were 10 minutes away from establishing a 12-point lead over third place when they led 1-0 at Elland Road.

But their late collapse means the gap is down to six — and exposes some underlying issues at the King Power Stadium.

Despite their dominance this season, a section of Foxes fans have not been enamoured by manager Enzo Maresca's possession-heavy style of play, claiming it slows down some of the league's best attacking players.

And that they rank down in fifth for shots per game — below all three rivals — suggests they are not the formidable attacking force the table suggests.

Maresca's side should still get over the line — but after also losing to Middlesbrough last week, their response to consecutive defeats will be intriguing.

Enzo Maresca is close to returning Leicester to the Premier League
Enzo Maresca is close to returning Leicester to the Premier League

All roads Leed to promotion

Daniel Farke has won the title in each of his last two campaigns at this level with Norwich — and few would bet against him making it three on the bounce.

Farke's 4-2-3-1 system is second-tier heritage and his star-studded outfit have won nine straight league games to blast their way into second.

No player in the division has more assists than centre forward Georginio Rutter, who arrived from Hoffenheim for £30million last season and is making this level look far too easy.

Ethan Ampadu, Glen Kamara, Crysencio Summerville and Willy Gnonto are also Premier League players in all but name and are propelling Leeds back up.

Tractor Boys making noise

Ipswich are dispelling any notion that they would not last the pace with the three relegated teams.

Indeed, the Tractor Boys may have already ridden out their dodgy patch having recovered from a run of one win in nine between December and February to record four straight victories.

Level on points with Leeds, January signings Jeremy Sarmiento and Kieffer Moore have breathed fresh life into Town, for whom Leif Davis, Sam Morsy and Conor Chaplin are also impressing.

Head coach McKenna is the jewel in their crown, though, and the reason they can keep up with Leicester and the Whites between now and May.

Saints slipping

Russell Martin's Southampton have lost three of their last four games
Russell Martin's Southampton have lost three of their last four games

Having seemingly been destined for the top two, Southampton have hit the buffers at the wrong time.

Russell Martin's side were on a remarkable 25-game unbeaten run in all competitions prior to their 3-1 defeat at Bristol City earlier this month a loss that has prompted a run of three reversals in four.

The Saints' individual talent stacks up with that of Leicester and Leeds, with Kyle Walker-Peters, Stuart Armstrong, Che Adams and David Brooks all established Premier League players.

Should they rediscover their form, they could still set up a blockbuster trip to Elland Road on the final day of the season.


ChampionshipLeicester CityLeeds UnitedIpswichSouthampton
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