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Premier League - Football: Leeds 6/1 to concede 90 goals and 16/1 to win next three

Jesse Marsch is the new head coach of Leeds United and bet365 have opened a market on how many points the Elland Road side will pick up in their next three games – away at Leicester and a home double header against Aston Villa and Norwich.

Marcelo Bielsa’s tenure at Leeds will be remembered fondly by not only the Elland Road faithful, but fans in general who loved his buccaneering style of football.

His injury-hit side were conceding goals at an alarming rate and with a relegation battle looking increasingly likely, the club have acted, with Jesse Marsch now given the job of steering the Yorkshire side away from danger and he’s 16/1 to win the first three after being dealt a fairly kind start.

Not wanting to depart from Bielsa’s high-intensity, high-pressing style, Leeds have turned to the Red Bull conveyor belt, which has seen the likes of Julian Nagelsmann, Ralph Hasenhuttl and Ralf Rangnick employed in recent years.

But Leeds fans expecting a seamless transition may be in for a rude awakening.

Marsch moved from Red Bull Salzburg to RB Leipzig in the summer, but a disastrous start to the season saw them stuck in the bottom half of the Bundesliga and Marsch was sacked before Christmas.

The progression from Salzburg to Leipzig was expected to be natural, but Marsch himself later admitted that the style of predecessor Nagelsmann was too different to that of his own, and change would need to be made.

Across the M62, though Manchester United had pressed more under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer than they had under any previous manager, the switch to Rangnick has been painstaking at times, and certainly didn’t produce instant results in terms of keeping sides out. Rangnick stopped the rot, but was not a short-term messiah, and Marsch may be the same.

While some may considering the style of football to be similar to Bielsa, there will likely be a bedding-in process for Leeds, who are 13/8 to be relegated. Marsch favours a more zonal defensive approach, while Bielsa wanted each man to take care of his opposite number.

Javi Martinez played under Bielsa at Athletic Club as part of the wonderful side which dismantled Manchester United at Old Trafford en route to the Europa League final. After a year at Bayern Munich, Pep Guardiola became his new manager, and moved him to centre-back, with him finding great difficulty adapting to the different system.

As the players have experienced under Bielsa, fitness and work rate are prerequisites for the system, which Leeds have in abundance, but this isn’t exactly a like-for-like change, and though the American is more of a pragmatist than ‘El Loco’ an uptick may not be immediate. While injuries persist at Thorp Arch, they may well continue to ship goals.

If Leeds continue to concede goals at their current pace, they’ll hit 88 by the season’s end. They have already leaked 60, are 6/1 with bet365 to concede 90 or more during the campaign, thus breaking the 38-game record of 89 which is held by the Derby County side of 2007/08.

It’s also worth remembering that many of Leeds’s current squad featured when they were languishing in mid-table in the Championship. Bielsa’s entire philosophy was about getting a team of individuals to be more than the sum of their parts. Did Bielsa and his coaching staff suddenly make these Premier League talents, or did they do a very specific job for him? While players like Kalvin Phillips have undoubtedly made the step up, that remains to be seen.

In the long run, this should prove to be a shrewd appointment, assuming Marsch gets time to shape and develop his squad to his needs, and if the 48-year-old doesn’t try too much too fast, he should shore up the defence and steer Leeds away from relegation quickly.

But if he tries to implement a Leipzig-esque overhaul, the Whites’ Premier League stint may well come to a premature end.

By Steve Freeth

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