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.
With forty minutes gone it was 4-0, Rodrigo won the ball in his own half and gave the ball to Phillips who played a superb ball to Raphinha who passed to Klich, the Polish international found Rodrigo, the Spaniard fired towards goal and the ball hit O’Shea and flew over the wrong footed and hapless Johnstone.
Raphinha would have made it five but Johnstone saved his effort on goal.
WOW! What a first half by Leeds, mesmerising and really doesn’t give them full justice for that forty five minute performance. Albion didn’t have a chance.
Leeds continued to impose themselves to get more goals in the second half, Harrison was crowded out by the Albion defence and soon after top scorer Bamford ran at their defence and his shot was deflected for a corner. Albion’s only opportunity came thanks to a feu par by Meslier. The young french keeper dallied with the ball and gave it to an Albion forward but redeemed himself with a smart save and then punched the ball for a corner.
Leeds brought on Shackleton and Hernandez to give the team fresh legs and both fitted seemlessly into proceedings. United made it 5-0 with the goal of the game, a superb move involving Stuart Dallas ended with him giving the ball to Raphinha, the Brazilian set off on a run towards and then across the Albion penalty area before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Johnstone.
United could have made it six or seven but Ayling’s flick from a Phillips corner just cleared the bar, then Bamford who was set up by Harrison hit a shot towards goal but unluckily for United’s top scorer it deflected off two Albion defenders and over the bar.
The last effort of the game came from Albion’s Robinson but his effort was well over the bar and summed up a terrible evening for the Midlanders.
The scoreline means that Leeds have scored and conceded the same amount 30 and maybe the ‘Nightmare before Christmas’ can be forgotten just a little.
Where do you start? Leeds were superb first half and although the foot was taken off the gas in the second half they well deserved their highest top flight win in seventeen years. It’s hard to single out single performances but Stuart Dallas was superb, Luke Ayling and Pascal Struijk gave Albion not a sniff and summer signings Raphinha and Rodrigo both had good games. My MOTM though went to Ejanni Alioski who was superb throughout and scored a cracking goal.
Leeds MOTM: Ejanni Alioski, a definite nine from the likeable Macedonian. .
Sam Allardyce: "Things can happen like that [the own goal], they are unexpected but when they do happen, they have to pick themselves up and fight, be determined.
“Leeds are a tremendous side, I think they are brilliant, but we've seen a performance like that against Liverpool and then we can't do the defending right tonight. Leeds overran us, won 5-0 and they deserved it. I was shocked to see such a poor performance and we have to work hard to put it right. Consistency is everything for us. We can't seem to get a consistency of attacking and defending right."
“Life will get difficult if we can't get results quickly. We need to make sure we don't dish up another performance like that. Liverpool was fantastic, but this was dreadful, unfortunately."
Marcelo Bielsa: "It was a game where we defended well and we were efficient up front. From eight chances we scored five and that helped the result.
“We played a serious game throughout and we managed the ball well, not committing any errors for them to attack us, apart from a few cases in the second half.
“We have to keep doing the same and keep doing it over a longer period of time. We have had a lot of highs and lows, only two games ago we had an important defeat and our idea is to play in a consistent manner."
Possession: 24%-76% Shots: 4-14
On-Target: 1-6 Touches: 401-914
Chances Created: 1-12
Successful Passes: 155-662
Successful Crosses: 1-4
Successful Take-Ons: 3-13
Duels Won: 37-59 Tackles Won: 10-13
Thanks to @LUFCDATA
A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL
By Keith Ingham