Comeback Kid Bamford Fires Leeds To the Top of The Table

Another clean sheet in Bolton leads to Fifth Successive Win:

Leeds moved up to the top of the league on Saturday evening thanks to Patrick Bamford’s first league goal for the club away at Bolton. Leeds are now averaging 2.05 points per game which is a remarkable statistic when you consider the number of injuries that the team has endured so far this season. The defence produced another clean sheet which saw Bolton fail to have one shot on target. It is now ten clean sheets for the Leeds defence which is the best defence in the Championship this season. The loss of captain Liam Cooper has no ill effect on the defensive solidity of the team in the past few games. Kalvin Phillips has slotted into the defence with ease. The sheer difference in the quality of Kalvin Phillips standard of play compared to last season is difficult to comprehend. Leeds have conceded only 18 goals so far this which has been the pivotal reason why the team are occupying the top spot in the table. Another ten clean sheets will propel Leeds to automatic promotion. I have preached this fact all season. It will not be easy, but when the team averages 60% in every game, it makes the job a lot easier. Keeping individual errors to a minimum will be crucial. Adam Forshaw’s poor pass to Kalvin Phillips could and probably should have earned Bolton a penalty yesterday. Marcelo Bielsa strikes me as the type of coach who will focus on this one specific moment in the game. The Argentine genius and his staff have stressed that the Leeds players must not be overly confident or arrogant to ensure that do gift their opposition easy goals. Nakhi Wells goal for QPR last Saturday was a prime example of the errors which could derail the Leeds assault on promotion. It will be interesting to see if Bielsa will rotate the squad over the Christmas period. Young Finnish centre-back Aapo Halme may start the home games in my view. The away trip to Aston Villa next Sunday will test this Leeds defence. Aston Villa and their plethora of managers has purchased a large number of attackers in the past year, and they will pose a significant threat to the hopes of another clean sheet this season.

Bamford’s return is like getting a new signing:

I for one was delighted to see Patrick Bamford return to action and more importantly score yesterday. I believe it’s impossible not to adore the former Crystal Palace striker, and I must confess that he came across like a very nice guy in his post-game interview on the Quest highlights show. Bamford reminds me of that one attractive and mannerly cousin you had as a youngster who your mother wished you would always copy. Kemar Roofe was non-existent yesterday as the large number of games he has started as a lone striker looked to catch up with him. The return to fitness of Bamford is a massive relief to all Leeds fans. Kemar Roofe has produced some fantastic performances, but he looks like he needs a rest in the coming weeks. Izzy Brown will also be like another new signing when he makes his return to the first team squad in the coming weeks. The instinctive one-touch finish for the winning goal at the Macron was mesmerising to watch. A top quality Championship centre-forward is another weapon for Marcelo Bielsa to utilise during the festive fixture list. Leeds are still only averaging 1.64 goals a game which is more than a slight concern, but as long as the defence can keep the errors to a minimum, it should not be a significant problem in the coming weeks.

Saiz leaves Leeds a cult hero, and we should all wish him well:

The level of sheer idiocy displayed on a daily basis will never surprise me. As usual, there was petulant abuse of the Samu Saiz for wanting to return home to Spain. The reasoning behind his quest to move to Getafe is entirely understandable and all Leeds fan should wish him and his family all the best in the future. The paly-maker has not reached the high levels of performance he showed in the early parts of last season since the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa. It is now apparent that Saiz was kept out of the starting eleven because he was going to be allowed to the transfer he craved. I have loved watching the diminutive Spaniard in a Leeds shirt, and he will be sorely missed. I know that majority of sane and decent Leeds fans will hope that Saiz and his partner come out on top. The rumoured incomings of Ibai Gomez from Alaves and Kieren Westwood on a free transfer will provide the impetus for Leeds to kick on in January. On a separate note, the rumoured financial difficulties for Andrea Radrazzani’s UK sports streaming business will be interesting to keep an eye at for all Leeds fans.

Bielsa’s Leeds show enormous mental fortitude to grab the win at Bramall Lane

Nine points in seven days:

In the 60th minute of yesterday’s victory, I tweeted that Leeds needed to show immense mental strength to ensure that at least a point be taken back to Elland Road. The 4-1 hammering at West Brom was scoreless seven minutes into the second half. The resulting capitulation might turn out to be the best thing that could happen to the players, management and fans. The players had 71% possession at the Hawthorns. However, they were anaemic in attack and lacked the intense pressing which has been the cornerstone of the Bielsaball revolution. The half-time introduction of the pacy Jack Clarke allowed Leeds to continually press the Sheffield United players for the majority of the second half. Pablo Hernandez’s winning goal was the product of the high pressing gameplan. The Leeds players showed a considerable amount of grit which was severely lacking against the Baggies. The scrappy one nil win showed that Leeds do not need to play blistering possession-based football to win. Leeds ended the game with only 39% possession which is a season low. Marcelo Bielsa and his backroom staff have naturally adapted their gameplan in the last few weeks. Leeds are producing more shot on and more importantly more attempts on target. The win over the Blades will not be remembered for the spectacle of football but could witness the turning point for the Leeds team regarding the belief that they can seriously mount a title push into May. Fans like myself now must have more confidence that the squad have the guts to keep the fantastic start of the season going.

The kids are alright:

The belief that Marcelo Bielsa shows in his young players is so refreshing to see. In fairness, Leeds have produced a prolific number of young stars in the past three decades. Jack Clare, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Aapo Halme and Jamie Shackleton have been extremely impressive so far this season. Mistakes will happen for all players, and each of the young players has made a few errors. The fact that the young stars have bounced back is in my opinion remarkable. The loss of captain Liam Cooper could have derailed the match yesterday, but the young Finnish centre-back Aapo Halme showed great composure. Bailey Peacock-Farrell still has much to learn, and he was targeted from set pieces yesterday. The Northern Irish number one will continue to get better, and he is already an excellent shot-stopper. Jack Clarke has the pace that his fellow wingers do not possess. The blonde youngster gets better with each performance. The calm maturity he showed to assist in the winning goal was brilliant to see. I fully expect that Clarke will be in the starting eleven against QPR next Saturday.

Returning players:

The next six games for Leeds are not that daunting. The away trips to Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest represent the toughest fixtures in my opinion. Liam Cooper could be injured for an extended period which is alarming. The assured performances of the Aapo Halme in the past week will lessen the potential loss of the Leeds captain. Izzy Brown and Parick Bamford returned to play with the under 23’s at Newcastle during the week. Both these young players could represent two new signings for Leeds. I hope Leeds can get another striker in January. I firmly believe it’s necessary that Leeds sign another quality striker. It will be tough to rely on both Bamford and Roofe for the remainder of the season considering their recent injury records. We move onto QPR at Elland Road on Saturday. I think it’s fair to assume that Leeds will be hopeful of another home win. It will be a tough game, but if Leeds can keep another clean sheet, they will take the three points.