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FA CUP: Premier League Team Leeds United Stunned By League Two Minnows Crawley Town

League Two underdogs Crawley Town produced a historic upset in the FA Cup third round as they overcame the odds against Premier League team Leeds United in a 3-0 victory at The People’s Pension Stadium on Sunday. 

 

RED DEVILS CRUISE PAST LACKLUSTRE LEEDS

John Yems’ men completely out-classed The Whites at home, making light of the sixty-two place gap between the two sides. Pascal Struijk, Ezgjan Alioski, and Kalvin Phillips were the only players to retain their places as Leeds made eight changes from the defeat at Tottenham. Star-players Patrick Bamford, Luke Ayling, Stuart Dallas, and Mateusz Klich were rested, but with the likes of Kalvin Phillips in the mid-field, Marcelo Bielsa fielded a young team mixed with experience.

Leeds looked solid in the first half, dominating possession of the ball. They were denied a clear penalty before the interval when Crawley defender Tony Craig pulled back Rodrigo. But that remained the only time Leeds even came close to scoring a goal. Leeds especially missed the presence of Patrick Bamford, who is the club’s most prolific goal-scorer, in their attacking line-up.

Three half-time changes for Leeds, already short of experience, allowed Crawley to attack in the second half. Nick Tsaurolla, Crawley’s only change from their last game, set the ball rolling as he drifted through four Leeds defenders to produce his first goal in senior football. Two-and-a-half minutes later, Ashley Nadesan put to good use Kiko Casilla’s error to double the lead. 

Jordan Tannicliffe sealed the match for Crawley, allowing John Yems the luxury to bring in reality TV star Mark Wright as a substitute during stoppage time. There was never any threat of a Leeds comeback and substitute Watters could have added further gloss to the scoreline.

 

DEFENCE WOES CONTINUE FOR LEEDS

Yielding three goals to a fourth-tier side has once again put the focus back on the lacklustre defensive performance the team has put on so far. Leeds have conceded 33 goals in the Premier League this season, only West Bromwich Albion (39) have conceded more. 

The performance of Kiko Casilla, in particular, has raised eyebrows – with the former Real Madrid keeper attracting criticism for his errors. Failing to get a strong enough hand in the first effort and then being beaten easily at his near post for the second goal, fans were certainly not happy with what they saw and expressed their displeasure on social media.

 

ANOTHER FA CUP EXIT

This is the fourth successive third-round elimination in FA Cup for Leeds – a tournament Marcelo Bielsa described as ‘representing the purest form of English Football’. Leeds’ 3-0 loss at Crawley is only the second time a top-tier side has lost by 3+ goals to a fourth-tier team in the FA Cup, and first since Oxford United lost 3-0 to Aldershot in January 1987.

Speaking after the match, Leeds’ manager Marcelo Bielsa slammed his side for the poor performance, saying that the loss generates ‘a lot of sadness and disappointment.’ 

‘We had the ball for a long period of time, but we couldn’t do much with it. In the first half, it was a first half where we played better than the opponent and the game was played how we wanted it to be played, even if we didn’t create much danger. And in the second half, the game was played how the opponents wanted to play, and they did create a danger to deserve the goals that they scored.’ -Marcelo Bielsa

 

A QUIET TRANSFER WINDOW

Marcelo Bielsa has left open the possibility of adding to his Leeds United squad during the January transfer market. This year’s winter transfer market looks barren, with clubs strapped for cash as pandemic continues to grip football worldwide. 

Leeds United winger Jordan Stevens has today joined League Two side Bradford City on loan until the end of the season. Following 13 league appearances with Aberdeen, Edmondson returns to Leeds but may leave again on loan this month to join an EFL side. 

Potential signings include Derby County youngsters Jason Knight and Louie Sibley. Both youngsters can play anywhere in the mid-field, bolstering Bielsa’s attacking line-up. Another potential addition looks to be Fikayo Tomori, with Frank Lampard’s Chelsea confirming that he is set to leave the team on loan. Tomori, with his international experience, could be a replacement for long-term absentee Robin Koch. Italian media also reported that Leeds are interested in Florentina pair Erick Pulgar and Valentin Eysseric.

 

WHAT’S NEXT?

There are plenty of lessons to be learnt by Leeds who would like to put behind this loss and focus on the Premier League. Leeds United face Brighton and Hove Albion at home ground Elland Road on Saturday.

 

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