Leeds 2-1 Swansea: Two first-half goals send Leeds back to the top of the league

Leeds score first to get back to winning ways:

Leeds have returned to the top of the Championship after a dominant display against an extremely average Swansea side. A late penalty from Oliver McBurnie caused a considerable amount of unwanted tension at Elland Road and in my front room in Dublin. I felt Leeds were sluggish in the first ten minutes but the early goal from the birthday boy Pontus Jannson proved crucial as Leeds got back to winning ways. The lack of a clinical goalscorer has been the main reason why Leeds are not at least ten points clear of the chasing pack. Unfortunately, Leeds need to score first if they are to claim three points, and a lack of finishing and creativity has been the main reason why the team has struggled for wins in the last month. Leeds have put themselves under unnecessary pressure by conceding simple goals of late. Case and point being the 3-1 homes loss to Daniel Farke’s Canaries. It would have been nice to claim a much needed clean sheet, but the team has four days off to rest, so that is a significant plus.


The rescheduling of the QPR game is a massive blessing for Leeds

Queens Park Rangers extended run in the FA Cup has given Marcelo Bielsa’s squad the unexpected chance to get some much-needed rest and recuperation. Leeds now have ten days until they face Bolton at home. qwThe Argentine genius stated after the game that the players would have four days off from training which is enormous at this time of the season. The dreaded Bielsa Effect where his teams seem to run out of steam at the business part of the season was a fear for me considering the dip in performance levels in the past month. The next ten days are basically a mini mid-season break for the squad. I fully expect the starting eleven for the Bolton game to look fresher and full of pace and power.


Kalvin Phillip produces another masterclass

In my opinion, Liam Cooper and Klavin Phillips have improved the most under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa. The Scottish centre back looks more composed and reliable when compared to last season. I’d go as far as to say that he seems at ease in the majority of games. Cooper’s long raking cross-field passes are also a joy to watch. Kalvin Phillips has surprised me no end so far this season. Discounting his display and lack of maturity at Notting Forest he has been Leeds best player so far this season. Whether he starts at centre midfield or defence, he portrays a poise that I never thought he had to be honest. The sale of Ronaldo Vieria at the start of the season had many fans perplexed, but Phillips has shown that he is simply a better player. The late equaliser at Middlesborough may end up being the turning point for this squad. With only minutes remaining, Leeds were staring at another disappointing and undeserved defeat. The crucial header will be in my view the catalyst for Leeds to finish in the automatic promotion positions at the start of May. His performance against the Welsh side was nothing short of a masterclass. He controlled the pace of the game and provided much needed defensive cover for the back four. He stroked the ball with so much elegance that it was verging on embarrassing for the men from the valleys. Long may his form continue!



My random thoughts

  • I would like to see Jamie Shackleton be rewarded with a start in the coming games. The academy graduate was brilliant in the final twenty minutes on Wednesday. The acceleration and burst of pace that he provides are precisely what Leeds are missing in the attack third
  • Luke Ayling gave his best display since returning from injury. However, he gave away a stupid penalty which could have proved costly. The Leeds fans who are targeting him and his partner on Twitter should be ashamed. I will be the first to be critical of performances but resorting to faceless taunts are cowardly and should be eradicated.
  • It would have been nice to see Izzy Brown get some game time against Boro or Swansea. The midfielder could prove a crucial player in the run-in. The countdown to Bolton begins now. I can’t bloody wait!!

Two Last Gasp Injury Time Winners in Three Days Cement Leeds At The Top Of The Table

Leeds always play in their style no matter the score:

The last three days have been amongst the best I have ever had in my 23 years of supporting Leeds United. The injury-time comeback victory at Aston Villa was unique and thoroughly deserved. The last few minutes of the Boxing Day win over Blackburn were manic. BPF produced an unfortunate mistake to gift Rovers an undeserved lead. However, Leeds didn’t panic; there were no long punts into the Blackburn box. They worked the ball into the best position and produced two fantastic crosses which where brilliantly dispatched by Kemar Roofe. I cannot ever remember consecutive games where Leeds have scored injury-time winners in such fashion. Leeds had not won successive league matches 3-2 since 1966, which shows the magnitude of the achievement. It is indeed a fantastic time to be a Leeds fan. After all the crap of the past 15 years – I think all Leeds fans bloody deserve what’s currently unfolding before our eyes.

Never die attitude:

Leeds have now won 7 games in a row for the first time since 2007. If Leeds prevail against Hull on Saturday, they will match the winning run of the team from the 1930s. The mental backbone installed into this side by Marcelo Bielsa is nothing short of a miracle. The change in mindset in these players is staggering in comparison to last season. The manic scenes after Kemar Roofe’s winner against Blackburn where exhilarating to watch. Gaetano Berardi’s celebrations showed the togetherness of this group of players.

We need to get back to keeping clean sheets:

The most interesting comment from any Leeds player over the past week was from Kemar Roofe during his Sky Sports interview after the win at Villa Park. “The manager said if we keep a clean sheet, we will win the game” – I have been beating this drum all season. When Leeds cut out the individual errors, they are streets ahead of the opposition in the Championship. Each week they grind the opposing players into submission by constant pressing and keeping levels of possession which are just mind-blowing unless you are Barcelona or Man City. Leeds had 70% possession and 28 attempts on goal against Blackburn. The game should have been over at half-time. Costly errors nearly gifted the Lancashire side an unjust away win. A scrappy one nil win over Hull on Saturday will suffice. Hopefully, the club ends 2018 on a winning note as we head into the centenary year top of the league and on the cusp of a momentous 2019.

My random ramblings:

  • Pontus Jannson has proven that he is the best defender in the Championship and will be an excellent Premier League centre back. Dominance in the air and a willingness to put his side before himself will make the Swede a success in the top flight.
  • Kalvin Philips is playing the game at his own pace and is merely toying with the opposition players at the moment. The poise and elegance displayed by the young Leeds star is terrific to watch. Marcelo Bielsa and his staff have carried out numerous miracles so far this season, but the utter improvement in Kalvin Philips could be the most impressive.
  • Has anyone else thought about how explosive Jack Clarke will become when he stops growing and hits the weight room? It is a frightening prospect and one I cannot wait to witness.
  • Leeds need to re-enforce in the January transfer window to keep the momentum going forward. A new goal-keeper to challenge BPF is a must and appears to be close. Ibai Gomez seems to fit the Bielsa requirements and could replace Samu Saiz.