After two hard-fought draws, Leeds returned to winning ways with an emphatic win over Preston. The Lancashire side started brightly and forced Bailey Peacock Farrell into an early smart save from a Callum Robinson curling shot. For the final 30 minutes of the opening half, Leeds besieged the away goal with a constant barrage of attacks. Eventually, Liam Cooper scored the deserved first goal from a corner before halftime. Preston scored an offside goal early in the second half which seemed to jolt the Leeds side, and they began dominating the game again. Tyler Roberts scored two great goals to seal the vital win and confirm that Leeds stayed top of the league. Below are the five critical items I took from the success:
The gargantuan Swede had his best game in a Leeds shirt in over a year. He was composed and assured in possession and formed a solid partnership in the centre of defence with Liam Cooper. The Leeds captain has been excellent so far this season and gave another fantastic display on Tuesday, but it was Jansson who was my man of the match. The towering Scandinavian was immense, and it is great to see him returning to his best form. I have previously said that on his day Jansson is the best defender in the Championship and his superb display on Tuesday night certainly helps prove my point. I will be praying that he can keep fit and stay in form for the months ahead.
The Preston win was the fourth clean sheet of the league so far this season. The back four and goalkeeper look extremely solid, and Kalvin “Clarence” Philips has been excellent at shielding the defence from central midfield. Leeds proved yet again on Tuesday that they will control possession and create numerous chances. It was the third game in a row where the team had over 60% possession. The high pressing and possession could leave the team stretched against the top sides in the league. If Kalvin Philips always out the game, then the defence could be exposed especially with our attacking full backs. It is an issue Leeds will probably face against our promotion rivals who will try to play on the counter-attack.
I for one owe the young Welsh international an apology. I was critical of his finishing at Millwall on Saturday. Honestly, he should have had two goals in London, and I was doubtful that he could realistically replace Roofe and Bamford. He answered his critics with two goals and an overall fantastic performance. He has the energy to burn, and he continually pressed and harried the Preston back four. Roberts showed no signs of nerves and got better as the game went on. The delicious lob for his opening goal was spectacular. However, it was his clinical finish for the third Leeds goal which impressed me the most. Marcelo Bielsa stated after the match that the Welsh international pleaded to be played as a central striker. It was great to see him back up his confidence with goals and his display on the pitch. He was the eleventh different player to score so far this season. It’s a great sign that the squad can share the goalscoring burden and Leeds fans can now look forward with less trepidation to the eventual return of our injured attacking players.
I am constantly let down by the Macedonian winger’s lack of consistency. He provided the cross of the season for Kemar Roofe’s brilliant header away at Derby. Against Preston, his final ball was awful. He let the Preston right-back run free for the disallowed goal and was sloppy in possession throughout the game. I tweeted on Saturday that he was born offside and I stand by that assertion. One of the numerous coaches at Thorp Arch need to show him how to time his runs. I cannot remember a player who went from the sublime to the ridiculous so often in a Leeds shirt. I live in constant hope that Alioski will positively impact the promotion cause going forward.
Leeds should have been three-nil up at halftime, but some poor finishing left the door open for Preston. Mateusz Klich missed two great chances in the first half, and Jack Harrison should have added to his goal tally but hit the post when it was easier to score. Leeds could have easily won by six or seven goals. The team needs to be ruthless because you cannot be charitable in the Championship. Gary Monk brings his struggling Birmingham side to Elland Road on Saturday, and he will no doubt want to derail the Leeds quest to return to the top flight. It will be another tight game, and I know Leeds fans will be expecting a comprehensive win, but I think it could potentially be a much tougher game compared to the Preston victory. If Leeds can keep another clean sheet on Saturday, I firmly believe that they will get another home victory.