When Leeds were last promoted to Division One back in 1990 the fixtures were eagerly awaited and out came our opener; Everton at Goodison Park.
The team once again travel to Merseyside this Saturday at a much changed ground since the last time I walked down the road to visit.
Unfortunately nobody will be taking the same walk as we did back then as the fans will be sat at home watching the game on television because of the COVID pandemic and fans aren’t allowed in football grounds.
Back then, Leeds had won promotion at Bournemouth from Division Two in May and everybody, but everybody wanted a ticket to the game. I was a member of the Keighley Leeds United supporters club that was based at The Woolpack public house just off South Street in Keighley.
The supporters club was run by John Chapman and his ex-wife from there, everybody knew everybody and week we travelled on Anderson’s coaches home and away. In those days you could smoke on them so when we pulled up at Elland Road or another ground a mist would come out of the doors as soon as they were opened!
The trip to Merseyside was a lighthearted one and full of anticipation for our first game in a new league. I can’t remember how many tickets we were given but where ever you looked you could see white, yellow and blue. The ‘army’ had travelled en force and there may have been a few ‘skirmishes’ between the two sets of fans.
United lined up for the game with John Lukic in goal, a back four of Mel Sterland, the two Chris’ Fairclough and Whyte and Glynn Snodin. In midfield it was Gordon Strachan, Gary McAllister, David Batty and Speedo. Up from was Lee Chapman and Imre Varadi. The two subs were Peter (the fish) Haddock and Chris (Kammy) Kamara. ‘Sgt’ Wilko was of course the manager.
A ‘sweltering’ Goodison Park awaited newly-promoted Leeds on the first day of the 1990/91 First Division campaign. The Yorkshiremen – resplendent in an all-yellow kit – took just six minutes to go in front. A throw-in, nearly level with the Gwladys Street End corner flag, eluded all that attempted to reach it, but an unmarked Chris Fairclough managed to head home at the near post.
The second goal saw more comic defending from Everton. A long goal kick downfield from John Lukic was pounced upon by Imre Varadi, who then collided with Neville Southall. Boyhood Evertonian Gary Speed was first to the loose ball, prodding it into the corner for what remains the last time Leeds held a two-goal advantage in a league match at Everton.
Leeds: Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha come in to the starting XI, Rodrigo on the bench. Stuart Dallas starts his 200th appearance for the club.
Arsenal: Four changes Willock, Pepe, Holding and Xhaka come in. Ex Leeds loanee Eddie Nketiah was on the Arsenal bench.
Leeds were held 0-0 by ten men Arsenal in a interesting clash at a rainy Elland Road. United hit the ‘Gunners’ woodwork three times during the game as their recent bad luck continued.
Raphinha on his home first start impressed from the beginning of the game and was the first player to run at the Arsenal rearguard, unfortunately his effort sailed into the South Stand. Arsenal’s first effort on the Leeds goal was from Ceballos who pulled a shot wide of Meslier’s goal. Patrick Bamford got on the end of a pass from Ejanni Alioski after the Macedonian had made a superb run into the Arsenal box. Unfortunately Bamford couldn’t get enough power on his shot and Leno saved easily.
Although the movement of the Leeds players was first class, their passing wasn’t the same and many good moves came to nothing as the final ball failed to reach it’s target. At the other end Pepe got the better of Luke Ayling and his cross come shot grazed the United bar and bounced to safety. Leeds had Stuart Dallas on his 200th appearance for the club booked for a clumsy challenge on an Arsenal player.
Raphinha, who was looking very impressive fired a shot just wide when the busy Alioski found him on the edge of the visitors penalty area, it was as close as could be and Leno dived full length as he must have thought it needed his attention. The best two chances of the half fell first to Bamford who half volleyed a shot goalward but Leno was alert to direct his effort away from goal, then within minutes Bamford cleverly set up Dallas but the full back put his effort wide of Leon’s goal.
This was where Leeds tried to turn the screw and get the all important first goal. Kalvin Phillips fired one over the bar before Mat Klich found himself in space inside the eighteen yard area, he moved the ball onto his left foot but fired well over the bar with most fans watching the game expecting him to score. Pepe had the last effort of the half for Arsenal but it was well wide.
A very good half from Leeds, but it was hoped the missed chances wouldn’t come back to bite their derrière.
Arsenal brought on Nelson for William at the start of the second half. Within six minutes they were down to ten men, Pepe and Alioski had an altercation in midfield which carried on to near the Leeds penalty box. The Arsenal midfielder appeared to headbutt Alioski and VAR asked the referee to look at the pitch side monitor. He did and promptly sent Pepe off
Down the years, especially back in the sixties and early seventies. Leeds and Arsenal went together like cod and chips, cups won, titles won and lost by two of the giants of English football at that time.
Move on to the present day and both teams have moved on, Arsenal no longer play at Highbury but are an established force in the Premier League and Leeds have travelled to Yeovil and other Division One teams before finally, after 16 years of blood sweat and tears of some of it’s players but all of it’s faithful fans they finally get to play Arsenal at Elland Road in the top league. The first time since 2004.
The only time Leeds played them in the time away from the Premier League was in the FA Cup, although Leeds had decent results against their lofty opponents it was usually Arsenal that won the replay. Last season United had the best of the first half of their tie at The Emirates before the hosts won the game with a second half goal from Nelson
Arsenal are managed by Mikel Arteta a discipline of Arsene Wenger, the former Gunners midfielder took over the team last season and won the FA Cup. They will be without a number of players due to COVID and injuries but still will come to Leeds 11 with a bevy of good, international players.
Leeds haven’t been having the best of times in their last two games, losing both 4-1 but hopefully the return of Kalvin Phillips and record signing Rodrigo in midfield may steady the ship. Unfortunately Diego Llorente, Jamie Shackleton and Pablo Hernandez are out injured. Bielsa is yet to pick from his squad without at least one being out injured this season.
The Gunners like to play a 3-4-3 system so whoever gets the nod in midfield for Leeds will be given space to attack them down the flanks and giving Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo plenty of opportunities to get the goals needed to beat Arsenal.
Heart definitely says a Leeds win, head says a draw wouldn’t be the worse result United could take to end their two game losing run. Leeds 2-1.
By Keith Ingham
When the Leeds players slumped to the ground after the second half collapse in the second leg of the playoff semi final against Derby County at Elland Road. One player became the focus of many fans frustrations, the ‘keyboard warriors’ particularly. His name was Patrick Bamford.
The ‘posh lad’ Leeds signed from Middlesborough for seven million pounds was seen by many as giving a lacklustre performance in the game and many pointed at the fact that if Kemar Roofe the only goalscorer in the first leg at Pride Park had played the result may have been very different.
Patrick had a tough start to his Leeds career, he missed much of it through injury and also didn’t get a full pre season under Marcelo Bielsa. If Kemar Roofe was fit he would play, which left Bamford on the sidelines for periods. He (Bamford) still managed to score ten goals and two assists in twenty four appearances during the 2018/19 season.
With a full preseason under his belt and with Kemar Roofe transferred to Anderlect the likeable striker set about scoring sixteen goals and four assists in forty five Championship appearances for United in the title winning side.
He could and really should have got to the magical figure of twenty but in some games, luck just wasn’t on his side or he just lacked the composure at the final moment. Whatever his failings were he was still Leeds top scorer for 2019/20.
Marcelo Bielsa steadfastly stood by his number nine despite bringing in on loan Eddie Nketiah from Arsenal. Despite a the young striker getting goals either as a starter in Carabao Cup games against Salford City, Stoke City and impressing and scoring when introduced as a substitute.
The joy and embrace of Pat by Bielsa when Bamford scored a goal in training and at the celebrations after Huddersfield Town had beaten West Brom to guarantee Leeds promotion was clear for all to see.
With United promoted, once again doubts were raised that the striker could do it at a higher level. Once again Mr Bamford stook two large fingers at those who questioned his ability to put the ball into the onion bag.
So far he’s netted against Liverpool, Fulham, Sheffield United and became a Hat-trick Bamford with all three goals against Aston Villa at Villa Park.
He was also involved in one of the biggest debates in the season so far when his goal at Crystal Palace was ruled out by VAR. His crime was to point to where he wanted the ball playing by Mat Klich, his outstretched arm was judged offside despite many in the game saying that this system currently being used is bloody ridiculous!
Bamford wasn’t downhearted and scored Leeds’ goal in the 4-1 defeat at Selhurst Park.
The striker has even been watched by England manager Gareth Southgate but as yet has not been picked for the England international squad. All Pat can do is continue to do what he’s doing... scoring goals.
Well done Bambinho; you’ve answered a lot of questions and proved many people wrong.
By Keith Ingham
Next weekend Leeds face one of the teams they regularly battled for cups and Division One Championships in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
There has been many great games and a few forgettable ones, so I thought I’d look back on a few before ‘The Gooners’ turn up at Elland Road next Sunday
The first time Leeds played Arsenal was way back in 1924 with the hosts winning 6-1 at Highbury in the return game of the 1924/25 season United claimed a 1-0 win. In the 1930’s Arsenal won the first game of the decade with a 3-1 win and Leeds had to wait until December 1932 to register their first win a Highbury with a 2-1 win.
Leeds didn’t play Arsenal from 1939 to 1946 because of the 1939-45 armed conflict so when the teams met in 1946 at Highbury it was no surprise when the hosts won the game 4-2 and United only played them twice in the forties, the return fixture ended in a 1-1 draw.
The fifties started with a narrow 1-0 win for Arsenal in the FA Cup and the next game was six years later in a Division One game was at Elland Riad where the teams shared six goals in a 3-3 thriller. The last games of the decade saw Leeds win 3-2 at ER and the game at Highbury ended in a 1-1 draw.
The ‘swinging’ sixties is the decade when the two teams became fierce rivals. Leeds had been promoted in 1964 and in their first encounter they beat Arsenal 3-1 at ER and did the ‘double’ over them with a 2-1 at Highbury. The biggest game during this decade was staged at Wembley. United win their first major cup 1-0 with a goal from left back Terry Cooper.
The seventies Leeds and Arsenal usually challenged every season for the Division One title. Arsenal won the ‘double’ in 1971 beating their rivals for the title but one year United would have their revenge when the teams would once again lock horns at Wembley for the Centenary FA Cup Final.
The game was a tense affair with Paul Reaney clearing a goal bound shot off the goal line before Mick Jones put across the ball for ‘Sniffer’ Clarke to head the ball into the net for the only goal of the game. Leeds could also have done the ‘double’ a few days later but having to play a weakened and tired team they unfortunately lost 2-1 to Wolves and the title went to Derby County.
I’m not Marcelo Bielsa and never will be but I’ve followed the ‘ups and downs’ for a very long time. Forty years plus and still counting.
I’ve watched every game of this fledgling season and apart from the last two games I’ve seen some fantastic football from the team in white or green and blue when away.
Leicester City, Wolves and Crystal Palace seem to have worked out how we play and beat us because their tactics nullified our natural pressing game and made it difficult for our wingers to get in quality balls to Patrick Bamford.
I’ve looked at the squad and when everybody is fit I suggest a change of formation to give the team the best possible chance to improve our latest results.
Here is my line up and formation;
Options from the bench are Raphinha, Costa and Poveda on either wing. Rodrigo could be used in the middle or on the wings.
Our midfield has Pascal Struijk a prosperous holding midfielder in waiting: who will get better with age and games. Pablo adds style and the ability to have a game changing moment and was heavily missed in the defeat to Palace.
We have also seen Jamie Shackleton moulded into a great box to box midfielder who could be used at number eight or the Klich role. He is another player who will prosper in the coming years.
In defence Bielsa could use Pascal Struijk, as well as being a potential holding midfielder he’s a decent centre half. Leif Davis has the praise of England’s Kalvin Phillips who says he could develop into a superb left sided defender.
In back up we also have Oliver Casey and Charlie Cresswell both who have great futures ahead of them if they continue to develop in the under 23’s.
Jack Jenkins was also added to the eighteen at Palace and highly regarded by Mark Jackson. Also in the under 23’s are Cody Drameh, Joe Gelhardt and the talented Sam Greenwood who one day will challenge Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo for the main strikers role.
Football is all about opinions and I thought I’d put my two pence in. Please feel free to comment in the section below the article. It will be interesting to see if you’ve different line up’s than mine.
By Keith Ingham
Leeds go into the international break on the back of two 4-1 defeats, one at home to a very useful Leicester City side and the other last weekend to a very ‘workmanlike’ Crystal Palace side that took advantage of opportunities that came their way.
So I’m looking back on our first eight games in the Premiership after sixteen years away from it.
We started at Anfield, the home of last season’s Premiership champions. We were champions too, clear winners of the Championship with a squad that had blown the rest of the league out of the water with our glorious brand of Bielsa ball.
As expected Liverpool took the points despite a brave attempt by Leeds on the day. We equalised three times with goals from Harrison who made it 1-1, one of the goals of the first weekend. Patrick Bamford seized on a rare van Dijk mistake to make it 2-2 and even had the audacity to peg them back to 3-3 with a goal from Mat Klich before new signing Rodrigo unfortunately tripped Fabinho to give Mo Salah the chance from the penalty spot to grab the match-ball and give Liverpool the three points. A hard one to take, but it made each and every Leeds fan feel so proud in their team’s performance.
After the heroics at Anfield Marcelo Bielsa gave the supporting ‘cast’ a chance in the Carabao Cup game with Hull City.
Unfortunately they came up short, despite a late Ejanni Alioski equaliser Leeds went out on penalties 9-8.
Last season’s Playoff final winners Fulham were the first team to arrive at Elland Road for a Premiership game since 2004 when they played Charlton Athletic.
Leeds were absolutely superb for around sixty minutes goals from Helder Costa, a penalty by Mat Klich and Bamford and Costa made it 4-1 before Fulham got themselves back into the game with goals from Cordova-Reid and Mitrovic made for an nervous last twenty minutes for the faithful. Another 4-3 classic.
Sheffield United hosted Leeds for the first Premiership ‘derby’ since the naughties. A marvellous performance by Ilan Meslier kept the ‘blunts’ out and two minutes from time Jack Harrison played the ball of the game across their goal for Patrick Bamford to break Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp and his teammates hearts with a headed winner.
Oh how the fans would have celebrated in Bramall Lane if they had been allowed to attend the game.
Leeds bring in Pascal Struijk and Ejanni Alioski for Jamie Shackleton.Raphinha joins the substitutes after missing the game with Leicester with an ankle injury, Jack Jenkins joins the first team 18 for the first time. No Pablo Hernandez.
Palace make three changes: Eze, McArthur and Ayew come in.
Leeds were handed another unhappy return from London as they were beaten by Palace in a sublime display from the home side.
The first half started very open, Townsend having a shot saved by Meslier, the ex Leeds loanee also had a shot blocked and cleared by Alioski. Leeds captain Liam Cooper had United’s first chance but he headed over the bar from a Klich corner. Unfortunately poor defending gave Dann the chance to head home a corner to give palace a 12 minute lead.
In the 16th minute Leeds though they had an equaliser, Ayling and Klich combined to set up Bamford who finished superbly, remarkably VAR ruled out the goal because the striker’s arm was outstretched and the referee ruled out the goal. Bloody infuriating how the game is been ruined by the a system that nobody really seems to understand the fine margins when it comes to offsides and handballs.
Worse was to follow, Palace were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Leeds penalty area. Eze beat Meslier with a superb effort that flew into the United net.2-0 down with 22 minutes gone. Leeds did not let their heads drop and got a goal back four minutes later. Klich flicked a ball into the area and Bamford scored his seventh goal of the season with a superb left footed finish.