Leeds 2-1 Swansea: Two first-half goals send Leeds back to the top of the league

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. qwThe 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!!

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.