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.

Leeds get lucky for once as controversial goal earns a late point with Forest

Kemar Roofe scores “Hand Ball” Goal:

Leeds dominated the possession and produced the most dangerous of the relatively small number of goal scoring chances at Elland Road on Saturday evening. The away side took an early lead from a corner kick as Jack Robinson outmuscled Stuart Dallas and directed his header past Bailey Peacock-Farrell. It was yet another poor goal for Leeds to concede from a set piece. Leeds lost at Blackburn due to some awful man marking which allowed the Lancashire side to score from two corners. Leeds amassed an impressive 71% possession throughout the game and finally forced a deserved equaliser with eight minutes remaining.

Kemar Roofe’s hand directed the ball into the net to give Leeds a share of the spoils. It was fairly evident that it was handball and I’m surprised that the linesman didn’t see it. In fairness to the Leeds forward, he admitted that he handled the ball and did not try to deflect away from the truth. An injury time Pablo Hernandez back heel was inches away from securing the three points for Leeds. Marcelo Bielsa’s men showed passion and grit to get a something from the match. Leeds stay second in the table and face two tricky away games in the next few weeks.

Lack of Clinical Edge Costs Leeds Yet Again:

This season’s Championship possesses at least ten clubs with a genuine chance of promotion to the Premier League. There is no clear favourite to run away with the league like Wolves did last season. Leeds play the best football but currently have two major flaws – defending set pieces and a lack of cutting edge in the striking department. Leeds amassed 18 shots against a well organised but limited Nottingham Forest side, but only three of these shots were on target. The Forest goalkeeper Costel Pantillimon was forced into one real save of note when he pushed Pablo Hernadez’s deflected shot for a first-half corner.

The young Leeds substitute Jack Clarke provided the much-needed pace that the Leeds attack was missing. The 17-year-old winger whipped a fantastic low ball across the Forest five-yard box which should have been a tap-in for any of the Leeds attackers. I maintain the view that if Leeds had Chris Wood or Dwight Gayle that they would be five or six points clear at the top of the table. I find it cruelly ironic that when the club finally finds a  quality management team who plays attacking football, we lack the number nine in the vain of Chris Wood or Jermaine Beckford. Teams with goal scorers get promoted from the Championship, and I am worried that Leeds don’t possess enough quality attackers to convert the number of chances created.

There are some mitigating issues which if remedied could improve the conversion rate for Leeds. The injuries to Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe derailed the fantastic start to the season. The long-term injury to Patrick Bamford has showcased the lack of attackers in the squad. Tyler Roberts has performed well but he is still learning, and the pressure of leading the line has proved tough. The most pressing issue facing Marcelo Bielsa is that the better opposition managers have decided to let Leeds keep the ball, but crucially are forcing most passes sideways. The early season wins were built on Leeds finding their attacking playmakers in between the lines of the opposition defence and midfield. The away demolition of Derby was a prime example of this as Samu Saiz, and Mateusz Klich continually found space which also freed up Kemar Roofe. Aitor Karanaka set up Nottingham Forest with a strong central spine and forced the Leeds midfield to pass to the side or backwards. The forward passes to Kemar Roofe were poor and holding the ball up front is not his greatest asset. Roofe needs to play on the shoulder of the opposition defenders. Leeds lack real electric pace in the wide areas and the standard of crosses into the box has been quite simply dire. Jack Clarke seems to have the electric sidestep and can drop his shoulder and beat his man. Marcelo Bielsa has stated that his team need many chances to score and that this is a problem that they are trying to rectify.

The Leeds defence has rarely been troubled from open play so far this season. The high percentage of possession means that Leeds can focus on building attacks from the back. The past few games have shown that defending from set pieces needs to improve quickly. The concession of goals from set pieces is putting pressure on the Leeds attack which does not convert enough of its chances.

With all these issues, Leeds are still second in the table. There is plenty to build on going forward. The away game at Wigan on Sunday offers a chance for the team to prove the moaners like me wrong. I hope they can get back to their early season form. A clean sheet on Sunday will get Leeds the three points.