Leeds leave it late to grab deserved draw with Brentford


A late header from Pontus Jansson saved Leeds from suffering an unjust defeat by Brentford at Elland Road on Saturday. Brentford took the lead through a controversial penalty early in the second half. It looked like a penalty in real time. However, once you view the instant replay, you can see the striker is going down before he is hit by Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Stuart Dallas started in place of the injured Barry Douglas in the only change to the starting eleven from the Hull game. Leeds looked tired from the outset. Usually, Leeds pressing and passing is done quickly and forcibly as in the previous two games. It was not until the final 20 minutes when Leeds put sustained pressure on the Brentford goal. A great cross from Gianni Alioski was brilliantly finished by Pontus Jansson with three minutes remaining. The referee Jeremy Simpson was a complete joke, and the sending off of Luke Ayling for two cautions was farcical. Brentford should have ended the game with at least one sending off. The honest reaction of Pontus Jansson on Sky after the match brilliantly summed up the feelings of all Leeds fans who were unhappy with the poor standard of refereeing.

Pontus Jansson:

The Swedish giant was back to his brilliant best and provided a genuinely dominant display. Liam Cooper produced his worst performance of the season, and his poor pass played a crucial role in Brentford taking the lead. Leeds side looked extraordinarily tired in the first hour, and it wasn’t until Brentford scored that Leeds upped the tempo. Pontus Jansson was pivotal in Leeds getting on the front foot. He was first to every ball sent up to the Brentford attackers and helped to start the Leeds counterattacks. His header for the equalizer was brilliantly buried past the Brentford goalkeeper. He was by far the best player on the pitch by a country mile. In my view, he deserved to get the man of the match award. He showed how much he loves the club with his passionate post-match interview with Sky. This portrayal of pure emotion will endear him even more to the Leeds fanbase.


Leeds played three tough games in the last 8 days. The two Yorkshire derbies against Sheffield Wednesday and Hull were controlled entirely by Leeds. Brentford are an excellent side and have an outstanding coach in Dean Smith. I have no doubt that Brentford will be involved in the push for the playoffs come May. The pace of the Leeds play was extremely slow in the first hour of the game. The introduction of young Jack Clarke gave some spark on the right side of the midfield. The young debutant supplied the much-needed impetus for Leeds to grab the share of the spoils. Marcelo Bielsa’s use of his squad going forward will be interesting to view. Lewis Baker and Adam Forshaw will be expecting to get more game time as the cold winter sets in. The overall strength of the Leeds squad has been severely tested over the past two months, and it will be crucial to get the injured players back fit as soon as possible.

Clinical Finishing:

The injuries to Kemar Roofe and Pablo Hernandez have seen Leeds draw recent games where they should have won. Marcelo Bielsa was very critical that his players only scored one goal from 14 attempts at Hull on Tuesday. The figures were must worse in the draw at Hillsborough last Friday where Leeds could have scored at least 5 goals. I made the point to my father who is also a lifelong Leeds fan that if we had a Dwight Gayle figure upfront, we would be 7 or 8 points clear at the top of the table. The loss of Kemar Roofe has been particularly devastating to the Leeds finishing stats. The striker was playing his best ever football in a Leeds shirt and looked brilliantly suited to the Marcelo Bielsa philosophy and gameplan. Tyler Roberts has done tremendously well in the last six games. The young forward’s goals have secured two vital wins over Preston and Hull. The Welsh international would be a significant impact substitute considering his electric pace. Let’s hope that Roofe and Hernandez will be back fir for the Blackburn game in a few weeks.

Leeds 1 v Birmingham 2 – Five Takeaways


Leeds suffered their first defeat of the season against former manager Gary Monk’s Birmingham City. Leeds lost the game in the first 30 minutes when they gifted two goals to the away side. Bailey Peacock-Farrell has come in for some heavy criticism online about his positioning for both goals. Deep down he knows he should have saved both efforts. For the next 68 minutes, Leeds dominated the possession without creating many goalscoring opportunities.

I was apprehensive heading into the match from the research I did on Birmingham’s results so far. Despite having failed to win any of their opening 8 games, they were playing well and posed a far greater threat than most Leeds fans on social media realised. The bookies’ odds had Leeds just odds on to win the match at 3/4 when I saw them on Friday. Considering that Leeds were at home, top of the league, unbeaten and playing a team yet to have a single league win was a red flag for me. Leeds should have been much shorter odds, and I’d say they lost quite a few accumulators for many punters today.

The Squad Must Bounce Back From The Disappointment:

Leeds finished the game with a season-high 71% possession and 17 attempts on goal with only 5 on target. Those match stats would win most games in any league. Leeds did not start the game well, and Birmingham made them pay. The goals were shocking to concede, but there were nearly 70 minutes left to play. Leeds lacked width in the first half hour, and the substitution of Kavin Philips for Stuart Dallas was a clear realisation of that glaring fact. Marcelo Bielsa has shown that he can admit his errors and will make the necessary changes at any time of the game. Birmingham had no chances after they scored their second goal. Leeds dominated the remainder of the game, but the clinical edge shown against Preston was severely lacking. I have said many times that of Leeds can keep clean sheets they will win most games. Teams who want to push for automatic promotion cannot afford to make two game-changing mistakes in a single match. Leeds were made to pay, and the Leeds fans will be hoping that can learn fast from their mistakes.

Bielsa Admits He Got His Tactics Wrong:

It shows the measure of the  Argentinean genius that he apologised for his pre-match tactical mistake after the game. Marcelo Bielsa is a man without a massive ego or a love of the limelight. The Leeds manager took responsibility for the defeat. Jose Mourinho would never do that. The humble manner of the former Bilbao manager is refreshing. It is inspiring the players to believe in the philosophy and stick to the process. The early first-half introduction of Stuart Dallas provided the width that Leeds were missing. Unfortunately, the team was losing two-nil at the time. The change worked as it was supposed to do because Leeds dominated the remainder of the game. Birmingham were set-up to stifle Leeds and their time wasting was frustrating. Leeds could not build attacks through Kalvin Phillips and Jack Harrison was marked out of much of the first half by the Birmingham defence. The players never panicked, and they adhered to the basic principles which Bielsa has instilled into each member of the squad.

The Fabled 3-3-1-3 System:

Leeds fans got their first clear introduction of Marcelo Bielsa’s famous 3-3-1-3 system. The removal of Kalvin Philips and introduction saw Leeds make changes to their formation. The team have deployed slight variations of the system in the previous eight games. However, Saturday was the first time it was used for a prolonged period of a single match. The system worked well with Samu Saiz taking the role of the number 1 behind the front three attackers. Leeds were able to increase the pace of the play and use their triangular passing moves to get down the Birmingham flanks. The formation could be used more frequently moving forward. Birmingham forced Leeds to attack through the middle in the first 30 minutes of the game. Other teams will no doubt try this tactic in the coming games. The pace of the passing and the extra width is what Leeds will need to improve on. The training ground will be open late in the coming weeks as Bielsa will want his players ready for the future challenges.

The Goalkeeper Conundrum:

Bailey Peacock-Farrell has done fantastic so far this season, but he has now made three crucial errors which have led to the opposition goals. Jamal Blackman is probably wondering if he will get a chance to make his case for the number one jersey. Peacock-Farrell has made some great saves, and overall, I firmly believe he will be the Leeds number one goalkeeper for the next few years. He has played twice for Northern Ireland, and it was clear in my mind that he would be the first-choice goalkeeper moving forward. Blackman must have believed that was signed to be the Leeds number one. The form of the young Leeds academy graduate has been great for squad competition. I really hope that the fans get behind Peacock-Farrell because as it was shown with Loris Karius, mistakes can destroy confidence. I think Bielsa will stick with his current choice unless he is forced to make the change. I am hopeful that won’t need to happen.

Onwards To Hillsborough:

Friday night sees Leeds travel to face Sheffield Wednesday. The Owls has an impressive win away at Aston Villa on Saturday and will want to inflict a second Leeds defeat of the season. It is highly doubtful that any of the injured players will return in time. It will be interesting if Bielsa will start with Stuart Dallas and deploy the 3-3-1-3 from the beginning of the game. It will be a big test of character for this set of players. The reactions to adversity so far this season have been brilliant. An away derby should get the players focused on getting back to winning ways. Keeping mistakes to a minimum will be vital if Leeds are to claim the three points. A clean-sheet should see Leeds in pole position to win the game.