There is no doubt that after narrowly missing out on the play-off positions last season, the goal for Leeds United and manager Thomas Christiansen this term will be to win promotion to the Premier League, with a sixth-place finish the minimum requirement.
The Whites are on course for that as things stand as they lie in fourth position despite their defeat against Sheffield United at Elland Road on Friday night.
Leeds actually sat top of the table earlier in the campaign after five wins and six clean sheets in their opening seven Championship fixtures, but four defeats in five had dampened the mood ahead of a trip to a Bristol City side that were flying high and had been beaten just once in 12 league games.
Christiansen and his players would have known that they needed to pick up a positive result against the Robins following three straight losses on the road, and their key men needed to step up to the plate.
The Yorkshire outfit only signed attacking midfielder Samu Saiz from La Liga 2 side SD Huesca during the summer transfer window, but he has already become one of their most important players and the onus was very much on him to put in a performance against Lee Johnson’s men.
The 26-year-old Spaniard certainly didn’t disappoint as he scored two goals in the opening 14 minutes – the first a deflected effort and the second a stab home after the hosts failed to clear their lines.
It was a brace that put Leeds in control of the encounter and they went on to win 3-0 in a result which would have brought the feel-good-factor back to everyone involved with the club.
Saiz has now netted eight goals in 14 appearances in all competitions for the Whites this season and while the Yorkshire side will be fully focused on achieving their goal of promotion, they may have to start thinking about some of the interest that could come in from Premier League clubs for the 26-year-old during the January transfer window.
It may still be relatively early days in the season but there are already a number of top flight clubs that are struggling to find the net on a regular basis, and they may well be looking for attacking players that can score goals in the New Year in order to boost their squads and to keep them away from the bottom three.
Southampton, Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion certainly all fit into this category as they have scored eight, ten and nine goals respectively in the Premier League so far this term, and the trio all look to have a potential opening in the team for a number 10 who is capable of finding the net.
Saints’ poor goalscoring form from last season has continued into the current campaign, and with the likes of Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond out of form, and Steven Davis not suited to the role behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation, there is certainly a chance that Mauricio Pellegrino could target that position as a weakness ahead of the New Year.
Having managed Alaves last term, the Argentine boss may well be aware of Saiz from scouting reports, and he is likely to have been impressed with how quickly he has adapted to the Championship despite never playing in England before.
Similarly, Ayoze Perez has been Rafa Benitez’s first-choice number 10 for Newcastle in the Premier League this season, but one goal and one assist in nine appearances suggest that he may not be the answer in the long term.
The fact that Saiz is Spanish could be another reason that a move by the Magpies is likely, with the Tyneside outfit already having a large contingent of Spaniards in their squad like Perez, Joselu, Mikel Merino, Jesus Gamez and Javier Manquillo.
Lastly, West Brom have never been known for their prolific abilities in front of goal but they look particularly toothless up top this season, having just two shots on target in the 1-0 defeat against Southampton in their previous away game.
The departure of Chris Wood to Burnley during the summer showed that every Leeds player perhaps has his price – even if the club want them to stay – and the Yorkshire outfit may need to brace themselves for interest in their latest gem with Premier League clubs ready to pounce.