Leeds back on top of the league after comfortable two-nil win over Ipswich

Match Recap:

A solid two-nil win saw Leeds bounce back to winning ways after Saturday’s disappointing loss at Blackburn. The win over an extremely limited Ipswich side has put Leeds back at the top of the table on goal difference. Pablo Hernandez produced a sublime display to show yet again that he is the most crucial player in the Leeds squad. The Spanish magician was clearly the best player on the pitch and curled a beautiful cross to find Kemar Roofe for the opening goal. Kalvin Philips deserves special praise for his performance at centre back. The young Leeds native showed a high degree of composure which was crucial to Leeds keeping a clean sheet. The first half was frankly awful to watch. Leeds upped the pace in the second half and ended up comfortable winners. Another big home game awaits on Saturday against Nottingham Forest. Leeds go into the game as the top team in the championship, and I fully expect that they will still occupy top spot come eight o’clock on Saturday.

Pablo The Saviour:

The former Valencia star gave an excellent performance on Wednesday night. Spatial awareness, subtle pace and a fantastic football brain are just three of the qualities expertly shown by the Leeds number 19 against the tractor boys. The cross for the opening goal was inch perfect and showed what the Leeds attack has sorely missed over the past month. Kemar Roofe looked much fitter compared to the game at Ewood Park. The striker’s constant energy and smart running provide Leeds with a much better attacking balance. Samu Saiz produced another tired display and could be due for a rest. I must add that I think that Gianni Alisoki is better playing at left back compared to the left wing. I thought it was great to see Tom Pearce get on for the final half hour. Jack Harrison didn’t have a great game, and he will probably return to the bench on Saturday. It is entirely possible that Adam Forshaw will start the game on Saturday against Forest. The midfielder worked well beside Mateusz Klich when he came on in the second half. The Polish international showed again that he is guaranteed to start when he is fit as he controlled the midfield.

Leeds Up the Pace:

I was very concerned after the poor performance against an average Blackburn team on Saturday. The defending for the two Blackburn goals was amateurish, but the lack of pace and speed of passing was the most alarming issue for me. The final half hour against Ipswich was excellent and a welcome return to form. The high-octane attacking play and the fast passing in the last quarter was great to see and puts the poor display at Blackburn firmly in the past. The Bielsa philosophy which was so evident in August and September was in full show as Leeds returned to the summit of the Championship. I firmly believe that when this Leeds side attacks with high energy and quick passing, there is no other side in the league that can stop them. Leeds are having an average of 65% possession in all games. The total control of territory added to the fast incisive attacking gives Leeds a platform to dominate all matches in this league. On Saturday night, I think its fair to predict that Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka will attempt to stifle the Leeds attack by sitting deep and using the pace of Lewis Grabban to stage counter-attacks. I think it’s imperative that Leeds start the Forest match with the high-intensity pressing and passing shown at the end of the Ipswich victory. I am incredibly confident that Leeds will win if they can keep Forest scoreless.

 

Leeds leave it late to grab deserved draw with Brentford

Roundup:

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.

Tiredness:

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.