Bristol City 1-3 Leeds Utd – Three Takeaways


The pain from the excruciating collapse against Derby in May will never leave me, and I would say it is the same for most Leeds fans. The most important signing of the summer was Marcelo Bielsa. The Argentine messiah’s choice to stay at Elland Road represents a new-found managerial solidity for Leeds which had been lacking since the days of Simon Grayson in 2011. Due to the harsh and unbalanced FFP rules, Leeds needed to slash a bloated wage bill and sold the fan favourites Jannson and Roofe. The loan additions of Ben White and Eddie Nkeitah look like smart moves from Victor Orta, and it allows the club to begin a new project next Summer if things do not go to plan. The opening game of the season saw Leeds totally outclass a much-fancied Bristol City side at Ashton Gate. Leeds controlled the game for the first 75 minutes, and despite a slight wobble in the final 15 minutes, Leeds finished 3-1 winners.


All ‘White’ on the night:

Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. The principles of Bielsaball were in full flow at Ashton Gate as Leeds stroked the ball around the park. The Leeds players have now had one season to assimilate Bielsa’s various tactical nuances and eccentricities.  There is a fluidity to the Leeds play which is striking to watch. The team can seamlessly change from 4-3-3 to 3-1-3-3 without any hesitation. Each player is drilled on where exactly they should be when Leeds are attacking or defending. The new loan signing from Brighton Ben White was my man of the match on Saturday. The jury was out on the youngster, but his assured display has most Leeds fan asking Pontus Who? Patrick Bamford got a much-needed goal, Pable was magic yet again, and Adam Forshaw was stellar in midfield.

In comparison to last season’s opening 3-1 home win over Stoke, I felt this was a more measured and clinical victory. This is the type of away display that Leeds need to duplicate to avoid repeating the shocking defeats from last seasons such as Stoke, QPR, and Ipswich. Those defeats ultimately cost Leeds, so Bielsa and the team must learn from these losses to push onto a top-two finish.


Stability and Continuity – a pathway to success:

Leeds rivals for automatic promotion have been through a summer of upheaval. In contrast, Leeds and Bielsa have lost Roofe and Jannson and replaced them with younger hungrier players. I was a fan of Jannson, but the fact that no Premier League clubs came in for him shows that maybe he was not as highly rated as most Leeds fans thought. Concerning the sale of Kemar Roofe, I was not disappointed. He struggles to stay fit, and I think he reached his plateaux at Leeds. I don’t think he is a 40k a week player so if he is getting that at Anderlecht, fair play to him and I believe all Leeds fans will wish him the best. Leeds have kept Liam Cooper, Pablo and most importantly Kalvin Philips and added the pace and guile of Helder Costa. Bielsa has indicated that he will try to rotate his squad more compared to last season. My one criticism was that Bielsa didn’t show enough faith in the likes of Shackelton and Dallas until it was too late. The signs are good, and I have put 100 euros each way on Leeds winning the league, so hopefully, that will pay for my season ticket next year.


Random Thoughts:

  • I am travelling on Saturday from Dublin for the Nottingham Forest game. I fancy a two-nil win for Leeds – no stupid mistakes, and we will win.
  • Eddie Nkeitah offers the lightning pace and movement, which was so sorely lacking in our last campaign. I firmly believe that he will get at least 15 goals providing he can stay fit.

A look at Leeds average attacking stats & injury news ahead of the Wigan game

Lack of Killer Instinct:

It is my firm belief that Leeds would be at least five points clear if they had a goalscoring number nine. Kemar Roofe’s injury was cruel as it came just a few days after the long-term loss of Patrick Bamford. Leeds have scored 26 goals so far in the league which equates to a goal every 52 minutes and 1.73 goals per game. Defensive errors have been extremely costly and have put pressure on the attackers to be more clinical in front of goal. If Leeds can increase the average goals scored per game up nearer to 2, then they will be in a fantastic position to return to the overhyped Sky Sports funded Premier League.  To improve the level of accuracy in front of goal the management will no doubt be looking at the shots on target percentage. Leeds amassed an impressive 18 attempts on the Forest goal last week, but worryingly only three were on target.  The low number of shots on target is a damning statistic which shows why the team are not clear at the top of the league. So far this season, Leeds have averaged 14.87 attempts on goal. 5.47 of the number of attempts have been on target whereas 9.4 of the efforts have been off target. The average number of shots off target is twice as many as the shots on target. The two number need to flip if Leeds are to continue in the automatic promotion places.

A Tale of Two Full Backs:

There was some contrasting news from Marcelo Bielsa’s news conference on Friday. There was more bad news that Gaetano Berardi would join Luke Ayling for an extended period on the sidelines. The timely return of Barry Douglas to the squad for the Wigan game was a significant boost as Leeds have missed his set-piece delivery, and marauding left wing runs in the past few games. Northern Ireland international Stuart Dallas will likely start at right back against the Latics. The Argentine tactician is a big fan of the former Brentford player which will dismay his many detractors on social media. I for one think he offers depth to the squad, however, the fact that the large number of recent Leeds managers continually deploy him in different positions all over the pitch, rarely gives him a chance to build up a decent run of form. The loss of Ayling is huge both on both sides of the ball. The ponytailed assassin offers the great defensive cover while he is a constant danger to the opposition on the overlap. Jamie Shackleton should be due for some more game time in the next few months which should provide the Leeds fans with a new homegrown hero.

What Will Happen at The DW Stadium:

I have never in my lifetime witnessed a Leeds team dominate the possession as much as this team does on a weekly basis. Leeds are averaging over 57% possession in the league so far this season. The poor defensive errors and the unfortunate injury record have seen Leeds stay close to the dozen or so teams looking to secure promotion. The awful defending from set pieces in recent games will need to improve vastly against Wigan. Leeds need to score a minimum of 2 goals to win most games so the main question is can they return to the ruthless form of August and September. Kemar Roofe’s goals have been invaluable, and he will likely be our biggest goal-scoring threat. Samu Saiz record in front of goal is abysmal, and he owes the team a substantial attacking performance this Sunday. I think Leeds will win 3-1 and as usual, they will control the game. If they can score first, they will most likely win. A fast start and no defensive gifts to the home side should secure a much needed away win.