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. The 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!!