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Leeds United 2022-23 season preview - prediction, summer signings, star player

Sports Mole takes an in-depth look ahead to Leeds United's 2022-23 campaign, including predictions, summer signings and their star player.

After avoiding relegation on the final day of last season, Leeds United head into their third successive Premier League campaign with optimism for a more successful season in 2022-23.

The Whites secured maximum points away at Brentford to climb out of the relegation zone at Burnley's expense and finish in 17th, eight places lower than the previous year.

Since then, Leeds have lost arguably their two strongest players to bigger clubs, but Jesse Marsch has reinvested close to £100m on seven new recruits and he is hoping that they will quickly adapt to his philosophy to help steer the club away from another relegation scrap.

Here, Sports Mole previews Leeds' 2022-23 campaign and takes an in-depth look at what supporters can expect during the course of the season.


FIXTURES

Leeds United's Luke Ayling celebrates scoring their third goal with teammate son March 18, 2022© Reuters

For the first time in four years, Leeds will begin the new season on home soil when they welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to Elland Road on the opening day.

Marsch's men will travel to Southampton for their first away game on August 13, before finishing the month with fixtures against Chelsea, Brighton & Hove Albion and Everton.

Their first trip to a so-called top-six club will see them renew acquaintances with rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on September 17, before facing Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur between October and November.

After a six-week break between mid-November and late December for the 2022 World Cup, Leeds will resume their Premier League campaign with a clash against champions Manchester City at Elland Road on Boxing Day, a game which will see Kalvin Phillips return to his boyhood club for the first time since leaving over the summer.

Leeds will conclude the year by visiting Newcastle United on New Year's Eve, before beginning 2023 with a home encounter against West Ham United. Matches against Aston Villa, Brentford and Nottingham Forest then follow before they welcome Man United to Elland Road on February 11.

The months of March and April will see the Whites make trips to the capital to face Chelsea and Arsenal, before finishing the campaign with four challenging-looking fixtures in May against Man City, Newcastle, West Ham and Spurs, hosting the latter on the final day of the season.

> Click here to see all of Leeds United's 2021-22 fixtures


SUMMER SIGNINGS

Feyenoord's Luis Sinisterra celebrates scoring their fourth goal on March 10, 2022© Reuters

In
Brenden Aaronson (£22.2m, Red Bull Salzburg)
Rasmus Kristensen (£9m, Red Bull Salzburg)
Marc Roca (£10m, Bayern Munich)
Darko Gyabi (£5.2m, Manchester City)
Tyler Adams (£20m, RB Leipzig)
Luis Sinisterra (£22.5m, Feyenoord)
Sonny Perkins (free, West Ham United)

Out
Kalvin Phillips (£43.9m, Manchester City)
Raphinha (£49m, Barcelona)
Leif Davis (£900k, Ipswich Town)
Charlie Cresswell (loan, Millwall)
Tyler Roberts (loan, Queens Park Rangers)
Jamie Shackleton (loan, Millwall)
Nohan Kenneh (free, Hibernian)
Ryan Edmondson (free, Carlisle United)
Liam McCarron (undisclosed, Stoke City)
Laurens De Bock (released)

Total spent to date: £88.9m
Total received to date: £93.8m

Net transfer balance: £4.9m


SQUAD

Leeds United's Jack Harrison celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on May 22, 2022© Reuters

Goalkeepers: Illan Meslier, Kristoffer Klaesson, Kiko Casilla

Defenders: Luke Ayling, Junior Firpo, Robin Koch, Liam Cooper, Diego Llorente, Stuart Dallas, Pascal Struijk, Rasmus Kristensen, Leo Hjelde, Cody Drameh

Midfielders: Adam Forshaw, Marc Roca, Helder Costa, Daniel James, Jack Harrison, Luis Sinisterra, Lewis Bate, Crysencio Summerville, Mateusz Klich, Tyler Adams, Brenden Aaronson, Darko Gyabi, Ian Poveda

Forwards: Patrick Bamford, Rodrigo, Joe Gelhardt, Sam Greenwood, Sonny Perkins


STRONGEST XI

LUFC XI 22-23


STAR PLAYER - BRENDEN AARONSON

USA's Brenden Aaronson pictured on June 5, 2022© Reuters

Leeds have lost two key players this summer in the form of Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha – who have joined Man City and Barcelona respectively – but new recruit Brenden Aaronson could step up to become a key cog in Marsch's machine this season.

The 21-year-old USA international became Marsch's first signing of the summer window, and the Leeds boss knows his compatriot well having previously coached the versatile attacker during his time at Red Bull Salzburg.

After beginning his career in the MLS with Philadelphia Union, Aaronson spent 18 months in Austria with Salzburg, and in the second half of the 2020-21 campaign, the American contributed to 10 goals in 20 league appearances to help Marsch's men secure the Austrian Bundesliga title.

Aaronson established himself as an important player for Die Roten Bullen last season in his one and only full campaign with the club, scoring six goals and providing 10 assists in 41 appearances across all competitions, including five goal contributions in the Champions League.

Fellow new recruit Luis Sinisterra is another one to watch this term, while the likes of Jack Harrison, Illan Meslier and Patrick Bamford are also set to put their stamp on this Leeds side, but Aaronson is expected to be heavily involved under Marsch and could be key in helping the club push towards a top-10 finish.


MANAGER - JESSE MARSCH

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch celebrates after the match on April 9, 2022© Reuters

Jesse Marsch was aware of the challenge that he faced when replacing Marcelo Bielsa at the helm in February last season and was given 12 games to maintain Leeds' Premier League status.

The 48-year-old took over a club ravaged with injuries and who were conceding goals for fun, but he managed to galvanise his squad, tighten up their backline and help the Whites claim 15 points on their way to survival.

Known for his high-octane pressing philosophy, Marsch began his coaching career in the MLS with Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls, before continuing with the Red Bull franchise at Salzburg and Leipzig. Marsch, however, lasted only six months with the latter before joining Leeds where he is hoping for more success in one of Europe's top-five leagues.

Marsch is a motivator and has previously outlined to the media that he requires his players to fight for each other and show the desire and hunger that the fans expect when representing the West Yorkshire outfit. The tactically-astute American has now put his stamp on his squad over the summer and is determined to bring the glory days back to Elland Road.


LAST SEASON - 17th

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa on February 26, 2022© Reuters

After securing a ninth-placed finish in 2020-21 – their first season back in the top flight for 16 years – Leeds supporters were understandably upbeat for what the new campaign had in store. However, a plethora of injuries and Bielsa's persistence to stick with his eccentric, gung-ho style proved to be the prime reasons for their downfall last season.

Leeds began the campaign with just one win from their opening nine league matches as well as suffering a fourth-round exit in the EFL Cup against Arsenal.

Victories against Norwich City and Crystal Palace were claimed at the ends of October and November before finishing 2021 with three successive defeats against Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal, which included a heavy 7-0 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium, to leave the West Yorkshire side precariously balanced above the drop zone.

The likes of Bamford, Phillips and captain Liam Cooper were all sidelined with injuries, but the Whites made a bright start to the new year and recorded back-to-back wins over Burnley and West Ham, with Harrison netting four goals across those two matches. The latter victory saw Leeds get revenge over the Hammers, who had eliminated them from the third round of the FA Cup a week earlier.

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch on March 13, 2022© Reuters

However, these wins in the Premier League were unable to spark a positive run of form as they went on to lose five and draw one of their next six top-flight matches between January 22 and February 26, conceding a total of 21 goals in the process. This dreadful run brought an end to Bielsa's reign at Elland Road, with Jesse Marsch taking over a club positioned just two points above the bottom three.

Marsch lost his first two games in charge against Leicester and Aston Villa, but Leeds turned their fortunes around by accumulating 11 points from their next five matches, including three victories against Norwich, Wolves and Watford.

Defeats against Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea then followed, leaving Leeds with the prospect of relegation to the Championship looming. However, a score draw at home to Brighton was followed by an inspired 2-1 triumph at Brentford on the final day, with a Raphinha penalty and Harrison's 94th-minute winner ensuring that the Whites maintained their status as a Premier League club.


PREDICTION

Leeds United's Jack Harrison celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on April 2, 2022© Reuters

Reinforcements were required after last season's underwhelming campaign, and Marsch has wasted little time in the transfer market to recruit the players who he believes will fit perfectly into his system.

The losses of Phillips and Raphinha are major blows but Marsch's squad as a whole has arguably become stronger over the summer and that should bode well for Leeds' chances of avoiding another relegation dogfight.

Going forward, Leeds are set to be an exciting prospect but one of their main concerns remains their defence and their frailties at the back could potentially cost them a place higher up the Premier League table. With that in mind, a mid-table position could be on the cards for the Whites this term.

VERDICT: 12th


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USA's Brenden Aaronson pictured on June 5, 2022
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