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Premier League - Football: Zero January business to bite Leeds

Leeds United failed to strengthen their squad during the January transfer window and this decision could come back to hurt them in their relegation battle.

After finishing ninth on their long-awaited return to the Premier League last season, optimism was high heading into the current campaign and the Whites made a couple of good acquisitions in the summer, bringing in Dan James from Manchester United and Junior Firpo from Barcelona.

However, it has proven to be tough second time around for Marcelo Bielsa's men and they find themselves 15th in the table ahead of the midweek fixtures, just five points above the bottom three and in serious danger of being relegated to the Championship - with the Whites 10/3 to suffer the drop.

Injuries highlight squad deficiencies

Leeds have been hit by injuries to key first-team players over the course of the season, most notably England international Kalvin Phillips, who has only played 12 league games and was last seen in action on 5th December in the 2-2 draw at home to Brentford.

Captain Liam Cooper and striker Patrick Bamford - the club's top goalscorer last term with 17 goals - have also been on the sidelines since that draw with the Bees. The skipper has made 15 top-flight appearances while Bamford has been restricted to just six outings.

With the trio such important members of the starting XI, it was thought the Whites - who are 1/5 to stay up - would delve into the January market and attempt to bring in some reinforcements, either on a temporary or permanent basis.

No Elland Road arrivals

However, Leeds failed to bring in one new face and with the club on a four-game winless run, in which they have lost three times and drawn once, that decision not to strengthen is being questioned.

The failure to sign any new players is even more startling when you look at the teams around them in the relegation scrap and the business they all conducted.

Newcastle United added five to their squad, including the likes of Kieran Trippier and club-record signing Bruno Guimaraes, while Burnley signed striker Wout Weghorst to replace Chris Wood, who made the switch to the Magpies.

Watford and Everton also went big in January in an attempt to ensure their top-flight status for another season, while Norwich City, who are bottom of the table, decided not to reinforce and this could come back to haunt them when the final standings are confirmed.

Weak defence to be exposed again

Leeds have particularly struggled at the back this season and they have the second-worst record in the league, with only Norwich City (53) conceding more than the 50 Bielsa's men have.

The last thing the Whites need is a trip to title-chasing Liverpool, who have the most potent attack in the division with 64 goals to their name, one more than Manchester City, but that is exactly what is facing the West Yorkshire outfit on Wednesday evening (19:45 KO).

Jurgen Klopp's troops have won their last eight matches across all competitions, scoring 19 goals in the process, while they are unbeaten at home in the league since a 1-0 loss to Fulham in March 2021.

It could be a long night for Leeds on Wednesday and the 10/3 available for Liverpool to win by a two-goal margin looks tempting.

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Hodgson back at the Palace

When Roy Hodgson left Crystal Palace at the end of the 2021/21 season, it wouldn't have been silly to think that the former England boss was done in the managerial game.

However, at the grand age of 74, the ex-defender is back in the dugout after being appointed Watford chief until the end of the campaign, tasked with keeping the club in the division.

After taking just one point from his first three games in charge and failing to score a single goal, Hodgson got off the mark last time out with a 1-0 win at Aston Villa.

The English tactician now goes up against his former employers Palace at Vicarage Road on Wednesday night (19:30), hoping to drag the Eagles into the relegation mire.

Patrick Vieira's side have failed to win any of their last six league games and are currently eight points clear of the relegation zone. With the quality in Palace's squad, they should have enough to survive, but they will want to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later.

With Watford only scoring once in four matches under Hodgson and Palace failing to find the back of the net in their last two assignments, backing under 2.5 goals at 4/6 looks a solid shout.

Spurs on the up

Tottenham's top-four hopes appeared to be fading after three straight league defeats, but a 3-2 victory at reigning champions Man City last time out has provided renewed optimism.

Antonio Conte is still getting used to his squad and there will surely be plenty of movement in the summer window, both in and out of the club, but he is working with the tools he has at his disposal right now.

Next up for Spurs is a trip to relegation-threatened Burnley on Wednesday (19:30 KO) and the visitors will have to be wary of the Clarets, who defeated Brighton 3-0 last time out to boost their survival hopes.

Tottenham have only lost one of their last six away league games, that defeat 2-0 loss at Chelsea, and they need to triumph at Turf Moor to keep their Champions League hopes alive.

Conte's men are seven points adrift of fourth-placed Man Utd, although they do have three games in hand on the Red Devils, so there is the potential to overhaul Ralf Rangnick's troops and Spurs are 11/4 to finish in the top four.

Chance for Wolves redemption

Bruno Lage has been quietly going about his business at Wolves and his side are just six points behind Man Utd ahead of Thursday's trip to Arsenal (19:45 KO).

The Black Country outfit may have only scored 23 goals, the third-lowest in the division, but they boast the joint second-best defensive record with just 18 strikes conceded.

Thursday's clash at the Emirates offers Wolves the opportunity to right the wrongs from the 1-0 loss they suffered at home to the Gunners on 10th February and the visitors are 12/1 to win by the same scoreline this time around.

Just two points and one place separate these two ahead of this league meeting and with both in the hunt for a top-four spot, this result could have huge implications on the battle for fourth.

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