I would have gladly taken a draw before the game. After watching the game twice, Leeds should have won comfortably. However, considering the awful recent record against Millwall, the draw will prove vital for many reasons. Without a doubt, the team would have been beaten last season. Bielsa’s Leeds are made of entirely different stuff. The team always kept passing and probing and never panicked. On the sheer number of clear-cut chances alone, it should have been another Leeds away victory. We host Preston with renewed vigour and enthusiasm, but there are still issues that need to be addressed.
Bielsa’s Mental Impact:
I was impressed by the Leeds players refusal to panic. I had the unfortunate privilege of listening to the Millwall match commentators. Biased and clueless would be a few adjectives I would choose to describe the duo. The match analyser made the baffling observation of referring Bailey Peacock-Farrell as not the biggest when he is nearly six foot four. Leeds ended the game with a season-high of 64% possession. The players never resorted to the classic British emergency plan of launching the ball into the opponents’ box at every opportunity. The equaliser was more than deserved even with Millwall hitting the post in added-time. The Argentinian genius most impressive impact on this Leeds side, in my opinion, is the mental strength and toughness he has instilled. It was evident at Swansea and again on Saturday that this group wholeheartedly believe in themselves and their management team.
The young on-loan winger is getting better with every appearance. He has a gem of a left foot, and his final delivery is improving on a weekly basis. The fact that he wasn’t one of the starting players to be subbed shows how much of a good game he was having. So far this year he has been coached by Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa. It appears that he is absorbing the teachings of Bielsa and his confidence is growing match by match. He will undoubtedly be parading his wears in the Premier League soon. Hopefully, it will be with Leeds. He ended the game as a false number nine, and he took his goal brilliantly. He played in three different positions throughout the match which showcased his ability to adapt easily. I hope he keeps building his confidence because he has the chance to play a pivotal role all season.
Clean Sheets :
I talked a few weeks ago with a few Leeds fans online where I stated that if Leeds could keep a minimum of ten clean sheets throughout the season, that they would end up in the top two. Millwall produced no real attacking threat except for throw-ins and set pieces. I felt that Jansson and Cooper defended the box well from the constant aerial bombardment. The Millwall goal came from a momentary lapse in concentration which can happen. If Leeds can claim clean sheets especially at home, then they can get close to securing the two points a game average that Howard Wilkinson stated will get you promoted.
Clinical In Front Of Goal:
I received some flak on Twitter for stating that we will struggle to score goals without Roofe and Bamford. Tyler Roberts had four great chances to score at The Den and honestly, he should have at least scored two. The young striker has been plunged head first into the deep end, and he must grab his chance. He should start at home to Preston, and I hope he can get on the score sheet. Samu Saiz needs a league goal to re-ignite his play. He played okay on Saturday and tried his best to spark the attack into life. Mateusz Klich looked tired after his international excursions with Poland. Leeds missed his lung-busting forward runs, and he may be given a rest on Tuesday night.
Preston At Home:
Preston produced a shock to inflict the only defeat so far on Marcelo Bielsa in the League Cup last month. Preston appears to be scoring plenty of goals, but their defence is leaking like a tap. The absence of Roofe and Bamford gives Tyler Roberts a chance to establish himself at Leeds. I would like to see Jack Clarke provided an opportunity to showcase what he can do on Tuesday. He is currently on fire, and some youthful exuberance could be what the Leeds attack needs. I was surprised that he was not used at Millwall considering Adam Forshaw’s lack of match sharpness. I re-iterate my point that if we keep a clean sheet, we will win on Tuesday. I am confident my belief is correct.