Leeds will be looking to put behind one of the worst results in recent seasons when they play Brighton at Elland Road on Saturday.
Make no bones about it the result at Crawley Town took a little of the gloss that has covered the club after promotion as Champions and their impressive start to their Premier League campaign.
Another defeat in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, their fourth exit at the same stage in consecutive years. Crawley Town, with reality star Mark Wright amongst their ranks can now enjoy a trip to Bournemouth in round 4. They now live in the Leeds infamy list that includes Sutton, Histon, Newport, Rochdale and in the 1970’s Colchester United.
Marcelo Bielsa is a tough taskmaster and the ‘murder ball’ session this week may have probably been even tougher as he prepares for a really important game at the weekend. He is expected to bring back Illan Meslier, Stuart Dallas, Mateusz Klich and Patrick Bamford into the started eleven.
One problem Bielsa will have to solve is who replaces the suspended Kalvin Phillips, the obvious replacement is Pascal Struijk who has played in the holding midfielder’s role previously. Diego Llorente, Liam Cooper and Tyler Roberts are all available for the visit of Brighton. So another central defence pairing is likely to happen, Luke Ayling moving back to right back, with either Stuart Dallas or Ejanni Alioski at left back.
It should be the usual midfield with Klich, Raphinha, Rodrigo and Harrison with ten goal top scorer Patrick Bamford leading the line once again. The striker has had an excellent start to his Premier League and will be hoping to score against ex teammate Ben White. The popular centre half returns to Elland Road where he played so magnificently in the squad that won the title.
In the last week Brighton have had travels to Newport where they won a 4-3 penalty shootout after the game had ended 1-1 AET. Then three days later they lost 1-0 to Manchester City at The Etihad Stadium. The defeat keeps the South Coast side in seventeenth position with fourteen points.
Leeds have won their last two games at home, 5-2 against Newcastle United and a nervy 1-0 win over Burnley so they will be hoping to make it three and if they start the game strongly they should do it. Leeds 3-1.
By Keith Ingham
The FA Cup has been not the happiest of hunting grounds for Leeds United.
The side have seen some historic wins in the years gone by; but lately they have seen several underwhelming results and knock outs thst leave much to be desired.
Now a Premier League team and with heavy summer investment; Leeds will look to see if their cup hoodoo can be resolved with an away game at Crawley Town.
This will be the first time the clubs have faced off and Marcelo Bielsa is said to have a heavily rotated team as focus remains with Premier League survival and the fans could finally get to see the likes of Sam Greenwood and Jack Jenkins given bailable first team minutes.
Crawley Town come into the third round tie having not lost in an incredible 10 games and sit ninth place in League Two.
Crawley Town DWDWW
Leeds have not stepped past the third round of the cup in the last four years; a test at Crawley can be the first chance to get in a cup run.
Prediction: Crawley 1 Leeds 3
By Ryan Ingham
With Leeds summer business taking a large amount of the clubs promotion kitty, they may need to be more cost effective in the January window.
The free agent market may not sound the most appealing, but the market is currently boasting some very intriguing names and here are three players that could make an instant impact on a small budget.
Allowed to leave Athletico Madrid on a free, Costa is now searching for a new challenge at the back end of his career.
The 32-year old has spent the majority of his career at two clubs; one of them being Premier League supremos Chelsea, marking 120 appearances and scoring 58 goals and laying on 24 for his teammates.
Dominant in the final third and able to bully defenders, Costa has gained a reputation for being a bullish forward for an eye for goal. A perfect impact sub at this age to come on and give Leeds a different option to Bamford’s more deep lying forward persona.
A player who could have reached the very top from the moment he stepped on to the field for Arsenal. Wilshere’s career has been hindered by several large injuries during his time in Premier League football.
The 29-year old has been without a club since being allowed to leave by West Ham and could not only add depth to Leeds’ squad but a good understanding of the Premier League; something our current squad is lacking in.
Predominantly an attacking midfielder when he began; Wilshere’s transition into a box to box midfielder able to to do the dirty work could make him a perfect option for tough games and allow for players like Klich to be rested on occasion to keep his legs for the end of the season push.
Known for covering 99% of every single Premier League pitch he has stepped foot on; the Brazilian finds himself without a team since his stint with Palmeiras in his native Brazil.
It may be nine years since his last season in England’s top flight but the 33-year old is known for his sensibility on the ball and engine like abilities in midfield; meaning it wouldn’t take him long to adapt to Bielsa’s high pressing and workmanlike midfield.
A decent squad option that could provide depth in the midfield.
Could any of these options be a perfect fit for Leeds? Have your say in the comments below.
By Ryan Ingham
Spurs D L L D
Leeds W L W W
Leeds unchanged. Naill Huggins and Charlie Creswell replace Tyler Roberts and Leif Davis on the bench.
Spurs: Sergio Reguilon is dropped to the bench while Erik Lamela is missing altogether from Tottenham's squad after the pair's Christmas Covid breach - Giovani Lo Celso is absent too, but is nursing a hamstring injury.
Steven Bergwijn comes in for the left-back as Spurs revert to a 4-3-3. Davinson Sanchez is the other name to drop out from the draw at Wolves, with Toby Alderweireld replacing him.
Leeds United: Meslier, Ayling (C), Struijk, Dallas, Phillips, Alioski, Klich, Harrison, Raphinha, Rodrigo, Bamford. Subs: Casilla, Poveda, Costa, Hernandez, Cresswell, Shackleton, Jenkins, Casey,
Leeds suffered a 3-0 defeat at Spurs but it’s another game that most United fans will be saying “what if” because of the chances created but once again were spurned and once the hosts were ahead there was only going to be one winner.
The London hoodoo unfortunately continues, it’s December 2017 since they last won in the capital.
Leeds started impressively and should have been 1-0 up through Mat Klich who had recovered from a knock against West Brom but he put his effort well over. Soon after Bamford could and should have Leeds in front after 22 minutes. Raphinha checked back and put a cross over to the far side. Unfortunately for United Bamford, unmarked put his header over the bar from 12 yards. A bad miss by United’s top scorer.
Jack Harrison then found himself in acres of space just outside of the area but his effort sailed over the bar as Leeds continued their struggle to capitalise on chances.
As in most games against the teams against to top teams in this league missed chances will cost you and it did. With nearly 30 minutes played Ejanni Alioski’s clumsy challenge on Bergwijn looked just outside the box but the referee awarded a penalty, there was a VAR review but the penalty award stood and Kane put the penalty down the middle of the goal as Meslier dived to the right. It was rough justice for Leeds.
Song made it two just minutes before the break with a sublime finish after a good Spurs move had presented him with the opportunity. It was the 100th goal the South Korean had scored for the ‘Lillywhites’. 2-0 at the break.
In the second half Alderwierald made it three after 50 minutes when he beat Kalvin Phillips at the near post to head in a corner, Meslier got two hands to the ball but it squirmed over his hands and just crossed the line to give Spurs an unasalable lead.
Leeds brought on Poveda, Hernandez and Shackleton for Harrison, Rodrigo and Alioski as they tried to get at least a goal for their efforts but although they never gave in the final ball wasn’t good enough. They did have another opportunity provided by Raphinha but it was spurned by Bamford when again he was in a great position, his header dropping into the grateful hands of Loris. It just wasn’t the Leeds’ striker’s day.
Docherty of Spurs, who had been booked earlier made a clumsyish challenge on Hernandez in injury time was given a second yellow, then a red card much to the annoyance of his manager Jose Mourinho. The defender will obviously be on the end of a talking to by ‘the special one’
Six points out of 12 isn’t a bad return for the festive period and the start of the New Year considering they have played both Man U and Spurs on their travels. It has to be said though the difference in standard of footballer when the hosts were ahead was clearly there for all to see.
Spurs had two ‘deadly’ strikers while Leeds haven’t. It might seem very harsh to say but whatever level you play at you need to take your chances when the come your way, especially in the Premier League.
Leeds stand out players. Raphinha had a decent game as did my MOTM Luke Ayling. Illan Meslier, despite a few problems with his distribution kept the score to three.
Jose Mourinho: “The three points are very important, by the strategy point of view we understood well how Leeds could hurt us and how we could hurt them.
“In that aspect I am happy, but I still think we can and we have to do better. The understanding is very good, against Leeds it was very important to have mobility because if you stay static, you give them an easy job.
“Son and Harry are doing special things. I want goals coming from other players, I want other players to feel they can express themselves. Today we had Toby too, but other players in positions to score too, Hojbjerg, Ndombele and Bergwijn."
Marcelo Bielsa: "We had moments in the game, and in general the first half was good. It was better in the initial 30 minutes and more even in the final 15 minutes of the first half.
“The beginning of the second half was our worst moment in the game. And in the end, it was again positive. There are two aspects that unbalanced the game. The opponents' forwards were very damaging and difficult to contain.
“We made some unforced errors which facilitated their attack but we had good offensive production. What we needed to do was not lose the ball in our own half."
Possession: 36%-64% Shots: 20-18
On-Target: 7-5 Succ. Passes: 253-494
Final Third Passes: 71-98 xG: 2.5 - 3.1
Chances Created 13-14
Big Chances Created: 3-1 Take-Ons: 18-12
Recoveries: 61-78 Interceptions: 10-14
Possession Lost: 134-156 Duels Won: 68-55
Thanks to LUFCDATA.
By Keith Ingham
Well 365 days have gone; where? you all ask. For many it’s been a terrible year where they have suffered family losses and months of working from home.
One thing mind you kept a little smile on our faces... Leeds United Football Club.
We started the year with a game at West Brom, I watched it along with my friend Shane and his son. Leeds drew against the team that were our nearest challengers with ‘own goal’ getting another one to move up the scoring charts at the club.
United looked primed to finally end 16 years of hurt by the time the spring flowers had burst through the flowers. It was going well, but there were moments like Nottingham Forest when it seemed to going a little ‘Pete Tong’. M
Who can forget the reaction of Luke Ayling post match? He looked broken but within days Liam Cooper blew fresh hope into the promotion charge with an equaliser at Brentford, a team that became a regular nuisance to us. They simply wouldn’t let go of our coat tails.
March brought the goal of the season from Luke Ayling against Huddersfield Town at Elland Road in a 2-0 win. That game I saw with my good friend Shane and we drank a few celebratory pints after it, little did we know that the game would be the last we would see in person in 2020. In the month I had to shield due to COVID so I had to adapt to a different life without those people who I was close to at the time. It wasn’t easy.
Would the league competitions be cancelled? Many; included Karen Brady and others said the 2019/20 season should be null and void meaning that Marcelo Bielsa would be denied the chance to complete the the job he started in 2018 and Liverpool would be denied their first title in 30 years. Finally and thankfully it was decided that football would return but without fans.
Leeds started their return in June with a game at Cardiff City but lost 2-0, had the break put fresh doubt in minds? Not a chance as United stormed through their final fixtures.
There were bumps in the road, a draw against lowly Luton Town when many had expected them to run up a cricket score, it just was one of those days when it didn’t happen for them, but importantly they beat their nearest rivals Fulham 3-0 a few days earlier.
There are three games that stand out more than most. Demolishing Stoke City 5-0 at Elland Road, a superb 90 minutes from the men in white and grey. The last gasp win at Swansea City when as 90 minutes was almost up, a shimy be the mercurial Pablo Hernandez and a shot into the corner of the Swansea net sent myself and my son into screams of jubilation and a few tears too.
Leeds fresh from a 5-0 thrashing of West Brom travel to London hoping to end their London hoodoo. The last time United won in the capital was 13 games ago when they beat QPR 3-1. Someday soon that ‘monkey’ needs to come off their backs.
The impressive performance at The Hawthorns was widely mentioned as one of the best first half display’s from any Premier League team this season. With four different Leeds players scoring and an own goal it proved that they do not rely totally on top scorer Patrick Bamford.
Spurs have had impressive results, including a 6-1 hammering of Man U at old farmyard. ‘The Special One’ as Jose Mourinho is known has brought a little steel to the Spurs rearguard and with Song and Kane upfront they have a team that could challenge Liverpool for the tiltle.
They started the season impressively and topped the Premier League but recent results have been disappointing including a 2-0 home defeat to Leciester City. Their game on Wednesday was postponed because of an outbreak of COVID at Fulham. This will mean they have had six days break before they play on Saturday.
Leeds will probably be unchanged for the third time, unless their has been any injuries picked up in the game on Tuesday with West Brom. Mateusz Klich came off with a strain but is expected to play to make it sixty three games league and cup games for the Polish international in 2020. A remarkable record for the likeable midfielder.
If Klich was to miss out at Spurs Leeds’ second half substitute for him Jamie Shackleton will probably deputise. Impressive Pascal Struijk should continue his centre half partnership with stand in captain Luke Ayling.
This game looks on paper like a ‘free hit’ but it isn’t, Marcelo Bielsa will be extremely happy to put one over his Portuguese counterpart. I’m going for a draw because nine points out of nine since the defeat at old farmyard is just too much to ask for. A 1-1 draw.
By Keith Ingham
West Brom: LLDLD
West Brom make one late change, Gibbs pulled up during the warm up so ex Leeds defender Lee Peltier comes into their starting X1.
Leeds: Meslier, Ayling(c), Struijk, Phillips, Dallas, Alioski, Klich, Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison, Bamford.
Leeds put down a statement with an masterclass performance at The Hawthorns on Tuesday night. The 5-0 hammering of ‘Big Sam’s’ Albion will definitely silence a few of the doubters of the gospel according to Marcelo Bielsa.
On a cold December night in the Midlands Leeds were straight at their opponents and were rewarded within ten minutes thanks to an incredible own goal by Albion’s midfielder Romaine Sawyer.
There seemed little danger as he recieved the ball but with his keeper outside his six yard box he put the ball towards his own goal and keeper Johnstone could only watch in bemusement as the ball went past him and into the net for United’s opener.
The only goal I’ve seen like it is when it happened in the Birmingham City v Villa game a few years ago. ‘Big Sam’ wasn’t amused as he sat in the Albion dougout. Albion did have a chance to equalise but a ball into the Leeds box was smartly put out for a corner by the boot of Stuart Dallas.
After the early goal Leeds had other opportunities to increase their lead but Johnstone wasn’t trouble by their efforts. Their was an incident involving Rodrigo in the penalty area when he was involved with a West Brom player but VAR didn’t award a penalty to the hosts. Kalvin Phillips soon after had a effort that Johnstone saved easily.
United though wouldn’t be denied and doubled their lead on thirty minutes through Ejanni Alioski. Rodrigo put a ball into the Albion penalty box which was half cleared to the Masadonian international. He hit an unstoppable shot past Johnstone to claim his third goal of the season.
Two became three five minutes later when Jacky Harradona ran at the Albion rearguard, he played a one two with Patrick Bamford and with a slick pull back fired into the net.
It was a superb goal by the Leeds winger. The only response from Albion was a shot from Furlong that went well over the bar, it was a rare moment of hope for them.
After a morale boosting 1-0 win over Burnley that nicely put twenty points on the board before the turn of the year, Leeds now face two away games in the space of four days. In the first they travel to The Hawthorns to face ‘Big Sam’s’ WBA.
Sam Allardyce, ex England and various other club manager has been brought in by the West Brom owners to replace Slave Bilic who was sacked the day after his team got a very respectable 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
‘Big Sam’ as he is known has a habit of landing at relegation threatened teams and getting them into a safe position in the Premier League. He is yet to see one of the teams he’s managed get relegated from the top flight.
Leeds will probably keep the same starting X1 with Kalvin Phillips, who had a MOTM performance alongside Luke Ayling in the centre of defence. It may be a little too soon for Deigo Llorente who has struggled for fitness since his move to Leeds.
One player who also seems to be struggling at the moment is Mat Klich, who is nearing 125 games for the club since moving to Leeds. Myself I’d opt for Jamie Shackleton in his position and give Klich a rare game on the bench. Ian Poveda had a good performance during a substitute appearance against Burnley, he is a good ‘impact payer’ and will probably come on in the second half. The winger certainly offers something direct when called upon by Bielsa.
West Brom achieved a creditable 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday evening so will be full of confidence for the visit of Leeds. This game looks a really close one to call and Marcelo Bielsa will be wary of Sam’s new charges.
A draw wouldn’t be a bad result for Leeds, a win would be superb. Leeds 2-1.
By Keith Ingham