Leeds welcome winless Southampton on Tuesday night for a game under the lights at Elland Road.
United themselves are without a win since their last home game when Crystal Palace were beaten 2-0.
Marcelo Bielsa will be once again without Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo for the game with ‘The Saints’. Both are unvailable and join Robin Koch, Gaetano Berardi, Ian Poveda and long term absentee Adam Forshaw on the sidelines, the good news is that all are making progress in training and getting ready for first team inclusion in the next month or so.
Leeds have certainly missed their key midfielder in recent games.
Bielsa expected to keep the same X1 that was very unlucky to come away from Wolverhampton empty handed, sometimes football matches can not give you what your performance deserves, last Friday was certainly one of those. In that performance both Jamie Shackleton and Mat Klich played in the holding midfielders role and it is expected for them to continue with Tyler Roberts supporting Patrick Bamford in attack.
Tyler Roberts impressive in recent games.
Southampton may also be without key players for the game with Leeds, the South Coast team who were top of the Premier League earlier in the season lost six games in a row recently before holding Chelsea to a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s at the weekend.
No game is easy, I’ve said this more than once this season and another tight encounter is expected. It may be a single goal that separates the teams, but this time I hope that the winner comes from a player in white.
By Keith Ingham
Arsenal went above Leeds thanks to a hat trick from Patrick Aubamayeng on his return to the side. The ‘Gunners’ were 4-0 up before Leeds scored two late goals in a spirited fight back, but it was too late to stop the hosts claiming the three points.
Arsenal made five changes from the side that lost 1-0 at Aston Villa. Leno came back in from suspension to replace Ryan in goal, while David Luiz was also back to replace Rob Holding in defence. Elsewhere, Odegaard, Ceballos and Aubameyang started, replacing Lacazette, Pepe and the injured Partey.
Leeds made just one change from the 2-0 win over Crystal Palace Kalvin Phillips is out, replaced by Jamie Shackleton for just his second Premier League start of the season. Luke Ayling moves to centre back, Shackleton goes in at right back and Pascal Struijk moves into midfield alongside Mat Klich and Stuart Dallas.
Arsenal: Leno (6), Bellerin (7), Gabriel (7), Luiz (7), Soares (6), Xhaka (7), Smith Rowe (7), Ceballos (7), Saka (9), Odegaard (7), Aubameyang (9) Subs: Willian (6), Elneny (NA), Holding (NA)
Leeds: Meslier (3), Ayling (5), Cooper (6), Struijk (6), Alioski (5), Shackleton (5), Dallas (5), Harrison (6), Klich (5), Raphinha (6), Bamford (5) Subs: Roberts (6), Costa (6), Huggins (6)
Leeds travelled to Arsenal hoping to banish a hoodoo that has run back to 2017 ... winning a game in London. It didn’t start well for Leeds as they were behind after 13 minutes. Patrick Aubamayeng drifted in did a few step overs then stepped between Ayling and Cooper before hitting a shot inside Meslier’s near post. The keeper will not be happy with his effort to save the shot.
Things could have got worse but VAR overturned the referee’s decision to award a penalty when Cooper got the wrong side of Saka. The reprieve didn’t last long, Meslier got in a muddle when the ball was passed back to him, the ball got away from him and in his efforts to get the ball back he fouled Saka.
This time a penalty was awarded and Aubamayeng did the rest with a penalty into the left corner as Meslier dived right. 2-0 down with forty minutes played. The nearest Leeds had come to a goal is when Bamford headed wide from an excellent cross from Jack Harrison earlier in the game.
With time almost up in the first half Belllerin made it 3-0 after a superb Arsenal move had ripped up the Leeds defence. His hard hit shot was far too hot for Meslier and a pretty awful first half ended with Leeds having a massive hill to climb in the second half.
The second half was only minutes old when Aubamayeng made it four. Helder Costa and Tyler Roberts both second half substitutes for Jack Harrison and Jamie Shackleton got in each other’s way and gifted the ball to Smith-Rowe who floated a ball to the back post where Aubamayeng completed his hatrick with a diving header.
To their credit Leeds simply got on and got a goal back from Pascal Struijk, a fantastic header from a corner kick and ten minutes later Costa reduced the lead to two with a cute flick over Leno. Game on! Arsenal mind you still threatened and both Aubamayeng and Saka hit the woodwork, Saka’s effort wouldn’t have counted as he was offside. Raphinha at the other end hit one wide from just inside the area, it was a good chance and Bielsa was clearly upset by the missed opportunity.
The last quarter saw Leeds denied a clear penalty when Bamford became the ‘meat’ in a Arsenal defenders sandwich. Anywhere on the field it surely would have been a foul but the referee waved away Bamford’s appeal for a spot kick. Meslier made a superb save to deny Arsenal a fifth.
Leeds MOTM: Tyler Roberts, impressive performance from the bench.
Mikel Arteta: “He (Aubamayeng) has been training really good, he wants to get back, he wants to help the team and I could see this week, I had a feeling to put him as the No 9 today and he has done the job.
The amount of chances we created and the type of goals we scored today really pleased me. The attacking patterns we had today, the confidence that the team had against a team that is constantly pressing you to be comfortable to get out of this situation. Overall, a lot of positives."
Marcelo Bielsa: "When we were building from the back, we didn't manage to take the ball from our half to their half, there were no surprises for either of the two managers, they knew how we were going to press and they resolved this.
And we knew how they were going to press us and we didn't manage to resolve this. And in the second half the opposite happened. In the first half we didn't defend well. And we didn't defend well because the ball went from back to front too comfortably, too easily for Arsenal."
Unfortunately these games happen but not very often. I think Bielsa got the line up wrong but what do I know, too many round pegs in square holes. Still Leeds are eleventh and nobody would argue they don’t deserve to be where they currently are.
We move on to Wolves on Friday night.
By Keith Ingham
After Monday’s impressive 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Elland Road Leeds pack up their green and blue away strip and head south for a game at the Emirates Stadium where they will play Arsenal on Sunday tea time.
Strangely, Leeds a promoted side this season sit above Arsenal in the Permier League in tenth and truth be told it hasn’t been a good season, so far for Mikel Arteta’s ‘Gunners’. I cannot remember a season where they weren’t challenging for something at this stage of the season.
Out of both domestic cups and struggling in the league, only Europe offers them a chance of silverware and they face Benicia in the next round of the Europa League and it’s not certain they will progress from it. Questions are already being asked if Arteta is the man to take them to the level that is expected of this famous club.
Leeds, under Bielsa have had some impressive performances away from Elland Road. Away wins at Villa, Newcastle, Everton and Leciester have surprised many and it isn’t a shock that the odds for this game are quite even by the bookies. It’s a close one to call.
Marcelo Bielsa may be without Kalvin Phillips for the trip as he is rated doubtful but no decision will be made about the influential midfielder until the day of the game. If Phillips is out Bielsa may either move Ayling to centre back and move Stuijk to midfield or use the versatile Stuart Dallas as a holding midfielder. Leeds will definitely be without Rodrigo, Koch and Llorente.
Earlier in the season Leeds were held to a 0-0 draw by Arsenal who had Pepe sent off for a headbutt on Alioski. Leeds had numorous chances to win but failed to take them. Arsenal had one chance late in the game but Meslier saved Leeds with a good save. It was a very good performance by United.
There is history between the teams that I’ve mentioned in a previous blog and even without Arsenal being in the best form they will be a good test of how far this Leeds team has come this season.
Heart says a win for Leeds to banish the London hoodoo but head realises this is Arsenal so a draw might be acceptable. That saying if Phillips plays I’ll say Leeds 2-1.
By Keith Ingham
Team News: Leeds unchanged. Teenager Joe Gelhardt included for the first time amongst the substitutes, while there was no place in the squad for Pablo Hernandez who was injured.
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson made two changes, recalling Tyrick Mitchell and handing a debut to January signing Jean-Philippe Mateta in the absence of the injured Wilfried Zaha.
Leeds: Meslier, Ayling, Cooper, Struijk, Alioski, Dallas, Phillips (Shackleton 88’), Raphinha, Klich, Harrison, Bamford. Subs not used: Casilla, Roberts, Costa, Davis, Gelhardt, Cresswell, Jenkins, Huggins.
Palace: Gaita, van Aanholt (Townsend 45’), Milivojevic (c), Dann, Ayew (Benteke 76’), Mateta (Batshuayi 65’), Clyne, Cahill, Eze, Mitchell, Riedewald. Subs not used: Butland, Kouyate, Kelly.
Leeds return to the top ten of the Premier League thanks to a workman like performance against Crystal Palace. The 2-0 win saw United climb over Arsenal who they play on Sunday afternoon.
On the newly laid Elland Road pitch Leeds were ahead within the opening minutes, three to be exact. Stuart Dallas putting a glorious ball to Harrison who smashed a right foot shot past the Palace keeper Giata. The winger showing why Leeds hope to complete a permanent transfer for him in the summer. Great start for United.
Palace were rocked and without the services of Zaha struggled to make any impact on the steadfast Leeds rearguard. Leeds really should have trebled their lead but unfortunately Patrick Bamford was far too high with an effort on goal when he made an opportunity to see the whites of Giata’s eyes. His disappointed with his effort was clear to see.
This was a good half for Leeds, although a few were still struggling to stay on their feet on the lush hybrid surface of the new pitch. Raphinha ruined Gary Cahill’s career as the winger nutmegged the former England centre half near the penalty area. The resultant free kick awarded for Cahill’s desperate foul saw a header go into the Norman Hunter Stand.
Palace had a few trips into the Leeds half but with not much success, Ayew continually throwing up his arms in desperation of their poor efforts. Pascal Struijk may still be wondering why he didn’t get on the scoresheet as he headed two efforts over and wide. The later he got his angles wrong and instead of heading a simple chance in he sent it well past the post. 1-0 at the break.
Palace brought on ex Leeds loanee Andros Townsend after the break to try and get a foothold in midfield where Mat Klich had a much better game alongside Stuart Dallas and Kalvin Phillips making his 200th appearance for the club.
The game was really over after 52 minutes, Bamford challenged a Palace defender near the byline and his clearance was put to the feet of Mat Klich who put the ball through to Raphinha, the Brazilian put a shot that Giata saved but the ball broke to Bamford who scored his 12th of the season and his hundredth goal of his career. The likeable striker celebrated with his usual happy smile.
Leeds face Crystal Palace on Monday night in the hope of getting back to winning ways after their two game winning run came to a end on the newly laid turf at Elland Road.
The defeat was a disappointment but their second half performance deserved at least a share of the points.
Crystal Palace have won their last two games at Newcastle (2-1) and a 1-0 win over Wolves at Selhurst Park. They have the same points as Leeds but have a worst goal difference and are thirteenth in the Premier League. Roy Hodgson has injuries to contend with and they could be with four or five key players including Wilfred Zaha who scored in the game earlier this season at home.
The 4-1 scoreline didn’t reflect the game as Leeds had a equaliser disallowed by VAR before Palace went 2-0 ahead after twenty minutes. Patrick Bamford gave Leeds hope before the half hour but a cross deflected off Helder Costa to give the hosts a 3-1 lead before the break. Ayew finished Leeds off with a late goal to make it 4-1.
Leeds will be without Rodrigo for at least a couple of weeks but apart from long term absentees Robin Koch and Adam Forshaw and Deigo Llorente who is again out injured for at least a couple of weeks Bielsa will have most of his preferred starting X1 to pick from.
Gaetano Berardi should return to training next week as may Forshaw but both will need at least a few under 23’s games to get some match fitness. Bielsa will demand that they are 100% fit before he considers them for selection.
A monumental moment for the club will be Kalvin Phillips turning out tonight for his 200th club appearance, the Yorkshire Pirlo has become a statement of the clubs passion and local foundations.
Before promotion the last time Leeds played Palace was in 2012/13 season in the Championship. Leeds won the game 2-1 at Elland Road, the return game ended in a 2-2 draw. In total Leeds have won 29, lost 18 and 16 games have ended as a draw.
It’s not an easy game, even if Palace have an depleted squad. They showed in the earlier meeting that they have players that can cause Leeds problems. That said I still expect a home win. Leeds 2-1.
By Keith Ingham
Leeds, on the back of two excellent away wins at Newcastle and Leicester welcome Everton to Elland Road tonight on Elland Road’s newly laid pitch.
Marcelo Bielsa’s team from the start of 2021 has been less than impressive before their latest games.
One thing you can be certain of is that whatever was wrong in the early games in the New Year were worked on 24/7 by Bielsa and the last two results have shown nobody in football could be doing more for a squad that contains nearly all the players that won promotion, in fact the eleven that ended the game had all played their part in that momentous season.
Everton had been in good form before they were shocked by a Newcastle United team that hadn’t won for eleven games. The 2-0 win for the ‘Geordies’ will be seen as a setback by Ancolotti and he win be keen to get back to winning ways at Leeds.
They have a good squad that was at the top end of the Premier League and include James and New England cap Calvert-Lewin, their top scorer.
Bielsa has doubts on Rodrigo, Raphinha and Bamford after they recieved ‘knocks’ at Leciester. Rodrigo is likely to be out with either Tyler Roberts or Mat Klich replacing him in midfield. Raphinha is rated 60/40 while Bamford should start and hoping to continue his form at Leciester where he set up goals for Stuart Dallas and Jacky Harrison.
Home advantage seems not to play a part in games without fans but hopefully the improved playing surface will encourage the playing style that has brought Leeds success this season.
A draw wouldn’t be a bad result a win, making it three on the ‘bounce’ would be superb. That saying I’m going for a entertaining draw. 2-2.
By Keith Ingham
Jacob Murphy and Ryan Fraser returned as Newcastle made two changes from the defeat at Aston Villa
Diego Llorente made his first Premier League start and Illan Meslier and Rodrigo returned as Leeds made three changes from the defeat to Brighton. Kalvin Phillips returned from his one match suspension.
Leeds: Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Cooper(c), Alioski, Phillips, Dallas, Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison, Bamford.
Leeds put another three points on their total but put under fire Newcastle boss Steve Bruce under more pressure as they slumped to their sixth defeat in six Premier League games. The win was Leeds’ first there since the early naughties and the first ‘double’ in the Premier League since 2004.
The early minutes brought more woe for summer signing Diego Llorente who pulled up in the first ten minutes and was replaced by Pascal Struijk. Stuart Dallas then set up Jack Harrison but the winger’s effort sailed past Darlow’s post.
Leeds weren’t to wait long for their opening goal. Newcastle’s Murphy was robbed in midfield by Harrison who fed Bamford, Leeds top scorer moved forward and passed to Rodrigo, the Spanish international pulled a superb ball back to Raphinha who curled the ball past the despairing dive of Darlow.
Shelvey put Newcastle’s first opening well wide, then Murphy set up Fraser but the winger put his effort into the stands. Leeds could have doubled their lead but Rodrigo effort was blocked and from the rebound Raphinha clipped the outside of the post from inside the six yard box. 1-0 Leeds at the break.
Newcastle were much livelier after the break and forced Leeds back. Almiron getting their first shot on target before they equalised before the hour mark. Bamford lost the ball, Shelvey moved it forward to Wilson who laid the ball to Almiron, the winger hit the ball towards the goal and despite a desperate attempt by Meslier to save it the ball bounced into the net.
Leeds though were back in front within five minutes, Raphinha stride forward before sending a delightful chip to the foot of Jack Harrison. The winger controlled it with his left foot before smashing it past Darlow with the same foot. It was a superb goal.
Meslier then kept Leeds ahead with a stunning save from a header by Shelvey, the midfielder sent a header goalwards but the young French keeper acrobatically turned the ball over the bar. The keeper then denied Schar by diving to his right to push away his shot.
Man of the Match: Raphinha, a superb goal and an assist.
Steve Bruce: "We were rocked in the first half with the goal we unfortunately gifted to them. It was tough going in the first half, but we tweaked a few things and I was pleased with the second half. We were a threat, had some glorious chances.
"We gave our best performance in a few months, were unlucky and didn't deserve to lose. I feel for the players, when you're up against it you need something to fall for you, but the performance was much better and gave us something to fall back on.
"I saw a little bit at Aston Villa, and certainly saw enough today, if we keep well and stay healthy in certain areas, then we'll be fine. We've had an awful time, there is no disputing that, but I have seen enough to see that we can build a bit of confidence."
Marcelo Bielsa: "We expected a difficult game. On the whole we created more chances than they did throughout the game. There was a 20 minute spell after Jack Harrison's goal where it was difficult to control the game.
"For us it was a game we needed to win, and it was very difficult, but we managed to do it. It was very important for us to win, the majority of teams go on runs similar to the one we have had, but this was longer and difficult. The quicker you get off one of these runs the better."
An important win for Leeds despite getting the run around by second half Newcastle substitute Saint-Maximin who ran the United rearguard ragged every time he had the ball at his feet.
Key performers: MOTM Raphinha, Rodrigo and Harradona deserve mentions as does the busy Stuart Dallas in midfield and Meslier for two great saves that kept Leeds ahead.
By Keith Ingham
Leeds hope to put two disappointing defeats behind them as they travel to St James Park to face a Newcastle United side that has failed to win in ten games, including five defeats in their last five Premier League games.
Steve Bruce is under increasing pressure to stop the ‘rot’ with a win against Bielsa’s Leeds, another defeat could see him follow Slaven Bilic and Frank Lampard, who was sacked by Chelsea on Monday.
Leeds should welcome back Illan Meslier in goal and Kalvin Phillips in midfield, Diego Llorente is fit and expected to start alongside Liam Cooper in the centre of the Leeds defence. If so, Luke Ayling should return to right back.
There has been quite a few great games between the two teams, I remember a Championship game when Chris Wood equalised late in the game, sending the public house I was frequenting into raptures.
Another that springs to mind is when Leeds won there 3-0 in 1998 with goals from Kewell, Bowyer and Hasselbiank in the Premier League.
With confidence low in the Newcastle ranks an early goal from Leeds could see heads drop to their black and white shirts and mean another defeat for them. Leeds 3-1.
By Keith Ingham