The last time I saw a football game was eighteen months ago, the 2-0 over Huddersfield Town and ever since that game I’ve become an ‘armchair’ fan.
I’ve seen Leeds lift the Championship title in an empty Elland Road and some superb performances in their first season back in the Premier League after sixteen long years away from it. I also watched England’s glorious failure after reaching the final of Euro 20. It was good but not great.
My first ‘live’ game was at Blackburn Rovers amongst 5.000 jubilant fans so pleased to get to see their team again. Marcelo Bielsa took a strong side to Ewood Park.
The only players absent were Pat Bamford, club captain Liam Cooper and Ian Poveda. First team stalwarts Luke Ayling, Tyler Roberts and Stuart Dallas were on bench with Sam Greenwood who played and scored at Guiseley the night before. Junior Firpo made his first appearance for Leeds after his summer move from Barcelona.
It was great to beside my friends Shane and Jamie Chambers, my son Ryan and we were treated to some superb songs from yesteryear celebrating ex heroes, Enoch Showumni, Dom Matteo, Jermaine Beckford, Luciano Becchio and ‘The Chief’ Lucas Radebe were all sung about as the fans found their voices after such a long time away. There was a ‘twist’ also to the Pablo Hernandez / Kiko Casilla song with it changed to “Junior Firpo, Junior Firpo plays for United with Deigo Llorente”.
The game was more about putting some minutes in legs, Leeds with Robin Koch as captain made a few chances in the first half with Raphinha creating havoc every time he was on the ball. Blackburn looked an organised side despite being without a lot of the players that were there last season.
The second half followed the same pattern but the final ball from Leeds just wasn’t perfect and many opportunities went astray after the last pass wasn’t good enough. Helder Costa had an excellent chance but put it well wide and the Blackburn keeper made an excellent save from a Struijk header.
Blackburn got the opener when they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Leeds area, McBride’s effort deflecting past Meslier and into the goal. Leeds equalised with less than minutes to play, Jack Harrison found Pascal Struijk who hit a firm shot that deflected past Kaminski.
At the end the fans got their chance to finally celebrate with their heroes on winning the Championship title when they sang “Campiones” and the players responded with applause towards the fans. That really sent goosebumps down the spine.
It was so good to see old friends meet, share their stories and show how they’ve missed their mates. It’s been a tough time for many away from the game we love.
Here’s to the next time I get the chance to watch the team I love.
By Keith Ingham
West Brom: DLLLL
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa opted to give old favourites Pablo Hernandez and Gaetano Berardi a run out in their final appearances for the club.
West Brom made two changes from their 3-1 home loss to West Ham on Wednesday night, with both Dara O'Shea and Callum Robinson starting for Albion
Well it’s over. The season we waited 16 years for gave us so many highlights to remember Leeds’ first back in the Premier League.
It ended with a 3-1 win over relegated West Brom, the victory took the points total to 59, the highest a promoted side has achieved in a very long time.
Leeds looked a little nervy in front of 8,000 fans, the first time they had played in front of fans since they played at Chelsea. The last time they faced anybody with a crowd at Elland Road was back in February 2020.
The fans had waited a very long time to see the likes of Rodrigo and Raphinha and cheered their charges whenever they had the ball, especially when Pablo Hernandez had it at his feet.
They could have been 1-0 up but a linesman’s flag curtailed the celebrations. The goal that was wanted by the fans arrived just before 20 minutes, a corner went across the West Brom penalty area, Bera flicked a head at it but missed and it was arrived on the head of Rodrigo who couldn’t miss. 1-0 Leeds.
Albion did have their moments, Liam Cooper was lucky just to be yellow carded very early doors and a few good moves around the Leeds box ended fruitlessly.
The whites doubled their lead through Kalvin Phillips who put a free kick into the box, Johnstone looked to have it covered but the ball seem to bounce just inside the six yard box and past the keeper. It was Phillip’s first Premier League goal. 2-0 at the break.
The second half Johnstone kept the score to two with some superb saves. Bamford came on for Rodrigo after the break and was obviously trying to get another goal to impress Southgate into giving the striker a call up for next months Euro’s.
Then the saddest moment happened with twenty minutes to play, first Gaetano Berardi was substituted then a minute later Pablo Hernandez. Both were given embraces by their teammates and Albion’s Bartley and the crowd rose to the feet to applaud both from the field. Both were visibly moved by the standing ovation.
Bamford got his goal after a ball was handled in the area and Leeds’ top scorer put the penalty down the middle of the goal to make it 3-0. The match finished with Leeds still pressing and giving the fans a chance to do the ‘ole’s’ as they kept possession.
The only two ‘blips’ were in the dying minutes as Cooper pasted back towards Phillips and he miscontrolled it letting Robson-Kanu nip in to get a concelation goal for Albion.
Then in injury time a determined Phillips wanted to attain for his mistake by making a heavy challenge on an Albion player, the clash left him in agony and he was booked as well. It is hoped that the injury does not keep him out of the Euro’s if selected.
Man of the Match: Pablo Hernandez, goodness me we will miss ‘El Mago’s’ sublime skills.
Marcelo Bielsa: "It has been a very satisfying, but very difficult season and I feel like we could have had a few more points.
"I thought it was an unforgettable game, but it was also a great homage to two players that stop belonging to Leeds. The responses that they got are only given to players who give their all and deserve it.
"Pablo's performance today indicated that he deserved more minutes this season than the ones I gave him this year and Berardi after such a long time without playing, showed he could still be current."
Sam Allardyce: "I think they have got the basis of a Championship squad that can challenge.
"It needs some additions, obviously. But I think there is the basis of a very talented Championship squad.
"I think the experience they have had this year will make them even better when they go back down to the Championship.
"I think it's a level they are going to be very good at.
"They have a great opportunity to show how good they are in the Championship. They will need to strengthen the squad but that's for somebody else."
For the first time since the ‘naughties’ Leeds registered four Premier League wins on the bounce. Make no mistake this season has been superb and there has been many great moments in it.
My pick is the game at champions Man. City, down to ten men but took the three points thanks to player of the season Stuart Dallas’ last minute winner. Roll on August, a full Elland Road, maybe a few signings and just maybe we could do even better in our second season in the top flight.
Thanks lads you’ve done us proud for the second season running.
By Keith Ingham
Ahead of the last game of the season we would love fans and readers of our site to provide their insight on who stands out for this seasons awards.
Player of the Season
Young Player of the Season
Game of the Season
Aston Villa A 3-0
Everton A 1-0
West Brom A 5-0
Manchester City A 2-1
Spurs H 3-1
Moment of the Season
Stuart Dallas’ injury time winner at Manchester City
Jack Harrison scoring our first goal in the Premier League
Helder Costa. First Premier League goal at Elland Road since 2004
Raphinha’s late winner in the game at Everton
Patrick Bamford’s hat trick at Villa Park.
Prediction for 2021/22
Premier League finish
You may not agree with the players, games or moments we’ve shortlisted for our awards. If you don’t please mention it in the comments section.
These are ‘your’ awards so please friends/followers of the site also use the comments section to put down your choices in all four categories.
By Keith Ingham
On the night 8,000 Southampton fans returned to St Mary’s Leeds won 2-0 to secure a top ten finish for them in their first season back in the top flight of English football. They also recorded their tenth away win of this remarkable season.
Marcelo Bielsa suprised many by including Kiko Casilla instead of Ilan Meslier and said pre game that barring injury the Spanish international will also be in goal against West Brom. Captain Liam Cooper and Rodrigo also made the starting eleven with Pascal Struijk dropping to the bench. Pablo Hernandez was also included in the match day squad. Southampton made three changes: Tella, Walcott and Djenepo coming into their starting X1.
Early nerves saw a disjointed first half by Leeds with Southampton having the majority of possession. Leeds whenever they had the ball lost it cheaply and rarely troubled the Southampton defence. Recalled keeper Casilla pulled off a smart save to deny Adams early on as they pushed a reshaped Leeds back line backwards and had a ‘moment’ when he ran out of his goal but Cooper rescued his keeper. The keeper did though make a smart stop to deny Adams again just before the break. The only efforts Leeds could muster was an effort Dallas put well wide and Rodrigo also hit a shot over the bar. Scoreless at the break.
The second half brought the first Premier League appearance of Gaetano Berardi, the popular defender hasn’t played for the first team since his injury in the playoff semi final away at Derby County. Pascal Struijk also replaced Kalvin Phillips after the half time break.
Ward-Prowse was so close to giving Southampton the lead, two minutes after the restart when his free kick struck the crossbar. Leeds started to play with more purpose and Stuart Dallas was superbly denied by McCarthy. Bamford was involved in a penalty incident when he rounded McCarthy, the keeper clipped his ankles but Bamford stayed on his feet and no penalty was given. He remonstrated with the referee but to no avail.
Leeds were well on top when they took the lead with less than twenty minutes to play. Rodrigo played a superb ball through to Bamford and from the tightest of angles he scored his 16th goal of the season. Raphinha doubled the lead but it was disallowed for offside.
With the game going into it’s final minutes Saints subs Redmond and Ings had efforts that went wide before Leeds got their second. Leeds substitute Tyler Roberts on for Rodrigo finished cooly after Bamford had an effort superbly saved by McCarthy. It was the young striker’s first ever Premier League goal.
A good win and in the second half their performance was deserving of the three points.
Man of the Match: Patrick Bamford
Berra’s back! And it’s a joy to behold!
Ralph Hasenhuttl: "It was a very intense game, a good game for the supporters, I think. We had a very good first half without scoring, they had a very good second half with scoring, and that was the difference.
"That was why we lost. We haven't had big problems in the last few weeks with scoring goals at home, but the final action today in the box was not there. We were dominant in the first 45 minutes, we couldn't play much better than we played in this time, but we missed the goals a little bit today.
"In the second half, we made a few subs and we didn't get better when we made a few subs. We couldn't find the next gear that they found in the last 30 minutes. It is necessary against this team.
"We wanted to show our fans that we are there, that we wanted to win this game and we want to keep the tempo high. But against this team, you have to be clear that they have so much physical quality that they have the potential to fight back and this is what they did today."
Marcelo Bielsa: "We're happy to have won and the consequences in the table also.
"The fact that we managed to score a goal facilitated things [improvement in the second half] a little bit, but whoever scored first in this game was in better condition to impose themselves.
"It wasn't my influence, it was the profile of the individualities of the second half which changed the game.
"The team in the second half looked a lot more like the team that it is and just how we unlevelled the game in the second half, Southampton could have done the same in the first half."
By Keith Ingham
Leeds travel to Burnley after one of the best wins of the season last weekend. The 3-1 win over Spurs put the poor performance at Brighton behind them and it was hard to single out one single player as all who played in the win deserve credit.
Quite unbelievably Steve Bruce was given the Manager of the month award for April, so Marcelo Bielsa misses out. Stuart Dallas also missed out to Jessie Lingard who won the Player of the month. Both the Leeds Head Coach and player deserved the awards for an unbeaten run in April.
Burnley have had an up and down season, one week great, the next disappointing. In their recent results they have won at Wolves and Fulham but lost away at Southampton and Man U also losing at home to Newcastle and West Ham. Their last game was a 2-0 win over Fulham that relegated the Londoners.
In their squad they have England goalkeeper Nick Pope and ex Leeds players Chris Wood and Charlie Taylor. Wood was Leeds’ top scorer before he left, he has scored five goals in his last three games. Never spectacular but under Dyche they are usually hard to beat.
Leeds could be unchanged but Marcelo Bielsa hinted that with two games in four days he may use his squad for them. Liam Cooper is fit as are Kalvin Phillips, Raphinha and last weeks goalscorer Rodrigo.
The earlier game was a tight affair and only an early Patrick Bamford separated the two teams. Burnley will feel very unlucky that they didn’t get anything from the game and will be hoping for a little revenge in the game at Turf Moor.
It’s a game that Leeds will hope to continue their impressive form against Spurs and not repeat the lacklustre performance in their last away game, Brighton won 2-0.
It’s a tough game to call but I’ll go for an away win. Leeds 2-1.
By Keith Ingham
Leeds produced one of their best performances of the season, especally at home to beat Spurs 3-1 at Elland Road. The victory kept ‘the whites’ in the top ten of the Premier League.
On a rain swept ER Leeds went toe to toe with their opponents and chances were created by both teams in a frenetic first half. Patrick Bamford forcing Lloris into a smart save early and after superb piece of play in the 13th minute down the left hand side Leeds were ahead. The move ended with Harrison putting the ball in the Spurs penalty area, it was directed towards their goal by their own defender Reguilon. Lloris superbly saved it but the ball fell to Stuart Dallas who blasted Leeds ahead. It was his 8th goal of a fantastic season personally.
Spurs were level before the half hour mark when Song beat Meslier after Deli Ali cut through the Leeds defence. Not long after they could and should have gone ahead but Kane’s effort was ruled out by the thinnest of margins by VAR. For the first time, in a while a decision by those at Stockily Park went for Leeds instead of the opposition.
Both teams had chances but it was Leeds who went ahead just before the break, Stuart Dallas slipped but still found Harrison who gave a superb pass to Ejanni Alioski. The platinum haired wing back burst into the penalty area and found Patrick Bamford to give the striker the easy chance to score from just outside the six yard box.
It was his first goal since his goal in the 2-1 win at Fulham. No piano celebration(he said he’d do it on Peter Crouch’s podcast the next time he scored) but the likeable striker certainly enjoyed getting back amongst the goals.
The second half was just as enthralling as both teams went for goals, Leeds introduced Raphinha and he made an immediate impact forcing Spurs to defend in numbers. Klich brought a superb save from Lloris and Harrison put a couple of efforts over the bar. Spurs had efforts too with Song just wide with a shot, Aurier then forced Meslier into a save of the game from a cross come shot that was goal bound and Kane came closest to levelling matters when his free kick hit the Leeds bar and bounced over.
Rodrigo replaced the hard working Patrick Bamford with around ten minutes to go and within minutes the returning Brazilian helped put Leeds 3-1 ahead. A superb move down the left hand side saw Ejanni Alioski find Raphinha who passed inside to Robin Koch, the German international put a slide rule pass to the winger who raced away from the Spurs defence.
He could have scored himself but cut the ball back to the Spanish international Rodrigo who cooly beat Lloris with six minutes to go. If Elland Road would have been full the ground would have erupted. The men in green knew their hopes of a Champions League place were basically ended. Leeds saw the last minutes of the game by bringing on Kalvin Phillips and the three points, 50 for the season were theirs.
It’s very, very hard to single out a one player because the defence was so solid, apart from the Song goal, the midfield industrious with Klich(back to his best), Dallas, Roberts and Koch upstaging their counterparts and Bamford getting his goal after a barren run. That saying my MOTM was Jack Harrison he gave Aurier a torrid afternoon and deserved a goal for his efforts.
Man of the Match: Mr Harradona, back to his best.
Marcelo Bielsa: "For a while now we hope to play on an equal term with an important opponent. In some ways today we achieved this.
"The conclusion is linked to the enthusiasm of the players. The rebelliousness to try and look like the teams that are better than us.
"Every time a professional football team plays, they are obliged to give a performance to those watching and follow them. They are obliged to give their best version possible. We will try for this."
Ryan Mason: "We had moments, but we weren't clinical enough at times. They started bright but we got back. At 1-1 there was an offside decision and I'm shocked. I don't think it was right. People don't understand momentum in football and how those decisions can affect you.
"I've seen it back. My first look, second look and 10th look tell me that it's not offside. At 1-1 it's a big moment. In my opinion they got that one wrong.
"Leeds know what they're doing, they play a certain way and it took us a while to get into the game. In the second half we were the better team. The moments we had; you have to take them in these games.
"Today was a massive game for us, to lose it hurts. It's difficult to win in the Premier League but we've got to have our full attention on next week now."
I’d definitely put this performance as Leeds best performance at home and up there with the win a Manchester City. A joy to watch and this side, with a few additions in the summer could cement their place in the Premier League. One thing you can’t do is rest on your laurels because Sheffield United have shown what happens this season if you do.
Well played lads.
By Keith Ingham
Leeds travel to the South Coast unbeaten in six games, in the top ten and in their last away game they took three points from a team (Man City) that is only a few points away from being crowned Premier League champions and possibly Champions League finalists.
Brighton on the other hand are flirting with relegation, they have a few more points than WBA and Fulham but a few more defeats and they could be dragged into the bottom three. Despite their poor position they did beat Leeds earlier in the season 1-0, a game that Leeds deserved at least a share of the spoils.
The game against Brighton brings together ex-Leeds loanee Ben White against his old teammates.
The centre half was superb in the heart of the defence of the team that won the Championship title last season and scored a unforgettable goal against Charlton.
Marcelo Bielsa will only change the team if Raphinha has recovered from a thigh injury or Helder Costa is not fit to start against Brighton. Mateusz Klich or Ian Poveda are the options if both are not available.
With Leeds in good form, it would be just a ‘Leeds That’ moment for their recent good form to come undone on the South Coast if they take Brighton as a team they should beat easy. Football has a way of proving if you do you might end up with egg on your face.
Leeds defensively have improved with Deigo Llorente and Pascal Struijk impressive alongside Luke Ayling and Ezgjan Alioski with the youngest goalkeeper(Illan Meslier) to keep so many clean sheets in Premier League history behind them. Liam Cooper serves his last game of his three game ban and Robin Koch is ready if called upon.
The one thing that may have to improve is the service to top scorer Patrick Bamford who looked very frustrated in the Liverpool and Man Utd games. Both Costa and Harrison, if fit need to supply the likeable striker with opportunities to end his scoreless run. His last goal was away at Fulham.
Both teams don’t give a lot of goals away so it may be only one goal that separates the teams. Leeds 1-0.
By Keith Ingham
man u WWWD
Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa stuck with the same starting XI which drew 1-1 with Liverpool on Monday Night with Rodrigo and Raphinha both out injured and Liam Cooper sat out the second match of his three-game ban but Robin Koch, Pablo Hernandez and Mateusz Klich were all available off the bench. Youngsters Sam Greenwood and Crysencio Summerville also were involved in the match day squad.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started with Dan James in the reverse fixture with Leeds, and he did so again as the Wales winger came in for Paul Pogba in the one change to the side that beat Burnley 3-1 in their last Premier League outing. Marcus Rashford shook off a foot injury to start, meaning Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek were both named among the substitutes.
Leeds maintained their unbeaten run, taking it to six games after an intriguing clash of the roses which ended scoreless.
The draw followed wins at Man. City and a draw with Liverpool also at Elland Road.
Both teams took their time to search out openings in the opening minutes of the game. There was no repeat for the visitors when they scored two early goals in the game at old farmyard. Leeds gradually grew into the game but chances were at a minimum.
The most talked about event in the first half were when the ball struck Shaw’s arm but after the referee had the incident checked by VAR no penalty was given to Leeds.
The game awoke after the half hour mark when Stuart Dallas had a chance to test Henderson but the hero of the Etihad shot tamely at the United keeper. At the other end Ilan Meslier made a fingertip save to tip Rashford’s free kick over the bar. Scoreless at the break.
The second half started with endeavour from both teams but neither keeper was tested as the moves petered out before getting into the final third. Fernandez then had a superb chance when found by James in the penalty area but the midfielder dragged his effort wide of the goal.
The best chance Leeds had was when Costa found himself with a little room and hit a shot that hit Wan Bissaka and went over the bar much to his disappointment.
Both teams made a flurry of substitutions with Leeds bringing on Poveda for Harrison, Klich for Costa who was hurt in a challenge in a clash near the touch line and Koch came on for Roberts as Leeds protected what they had. As a contest it lacked goals but it had most fans intrigued and will be seen by Leeds as a massive improvement from the last time the two teams met.
The draw meant that Leeds had taken eight points from the so founder members of the so called ‘super six’.
Man of the Match: Kalvin Phillips just edged it from Deigo Llorente and Pascal Struijk who were superb in defence. Phillips never gave Fernandez an inch in midfield.
Marcelo Bielsa: "It was a very demanding game for us. For the game not to become unbalanced, the team made a massive effort. This effort allowed the game not to become unbalanced for us. The game was played more naturally for them. But even if they predominantly dominated, the chances on goal were similar.
“Even if they had more of the ball to attack. They had a lot more attacks then we did. But I insist that all that we did in this game I value as it allowed for the game not to become unbalanced.
“To think doesn't get you tired, nor to look. What was moving was the effort that the team made. If we didn't bring this big energy, we wouldn't have been able to balance it. It's true the game opened up more towards the end, and as it grew the spaces opened up but I think the draw is a good enough reward given how the game went. It was a sufficient reward."
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "There's no guarantees in football that's for sure. I thought we played well, dominated the second half, just didn't have the ball to fall correctly for us in the moments we had.
“When two teams meet you create problems, you solve problems, they give you things to think about and we made them adjust to us. We put a really big shift in. I have seen Leeds run over teams in the second half and it was the opposite.
“You don't lose momentum, we are disappointed not to win but the boys have a lot of respect for Leeds. This is not going to be something we look back on as derailing our season."
By Keith Ingham