It has been a week of mixed emotions for Leeds United in the Premier League. Marcelo Bielsa’s men have already proven their top-flight credentials – they sit firmly in 11th place in the table in their first season since promotion, above more established teams like Burnley and Newcastle United. Nevertheless, fans and critics are expecting more from the Whites, and their recent performance has come under the scanner.
The week started off perfectly well for Leeds as they crushed Southampton 3-0 on Tuesday to climb into the top half of the table. The victory at Elland Road came in time for the Whites as they lost their previous two games and looked to have lost steam in their campaign.
Patrick Bamford scored his 13th goal of the season for the club as he gave the Whites the lead early in the second half with a low shot into the far corner. Stuart Dallas added to the tally with a neat goal from the edge of the box and Raphinha sealed the game for Leeds with a brilliant free-kick.
PATRICK BAMFORD’S PHENOMENAL RUN
Patrick Bamford has been one of the highest-scoring English players this season along with Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He has been directly involved in more goals for Leeds than any other player, with 39 goals and 9 assists under Marcelo Bielsa. He already holds the record for most goals scored by a promoted player since the 1999-2000 season.
LOSS TO ASTON VILLA
Leeds failed to convert their earlier victory to turn around their form, however, as they lost 1-0 to Dean Smith’s Aston Villa on Saturday. An early goal from Anwar El Ghazi five minutes into the game set the tone for the match, as Villa were accused of time-wasting in the second half of the game. With this defeat, Leeds have now lost three of their last four matches and have slipped back to 11th spot in the table.
The Whites failed to create opportunities to score against Villa – they had plenty of possession but failed to penetrate Villa’s defence. Villa’s defensive pair – Tyron Mings and Ezri Konsa – were particularly effective in preventing Leeds from scoring a goal.
Pascal Struijk had to come off because of an injury during the match, and if he doesn’t recover in time for the next game, it could create issues for Marcelo Bielsa in midfield. Kalvin Phillips has been out of action for Leeds since the win over Crystal Palace, and there have been no words on his immediate return to fitness.
The antics of Diego Llorente late in the first half of the game irked some fans, but his performance has been praised widely and could give Leeds a much-needed boost in upcoming games.
REVENUE BOOST AS FANS TO RETURN
With the vaccination campaign in full swing, the Premier League is likely to see fans return to stadiums with substantial capacity as early as May this year. This will mean a revenue boost to Leeds, who have missed out on the much-needed money they require for making high-profile signings in the transfer market. With the Whites establishing their top-flight credentials, Marcelo Bielsa will be looking forward to the summer transfer window to shake up his team.
The Whites are set for a major overhaul of their squad this summer, as some of the players who have been a part of the promotion journey look set to make way for younger players. Leeds United are reportedly monitoring the situation of the Serie A defender Nicolas N’Koulou, who plays for Torino. N’Koulou will bring leadership along with his defensive skills to the table if the transfer goes through.
Tyler Roberts has to up his game if he wants to retain his place in the squad. There have been reports suggesting that Manchester United are interested in acquiring the services of Leeds United attacker Raphinha, but Marcelo Bielsa is unlikely to part with the winger.
Few teams have brought excitement to the Premier League right after promotion as Leeds have. The Whites sit at the 11th spot with 35 points from 26 fixtures, with 11 wins and 13 losses. But the more important fact is that they have drawn just two of their games so far, which goes on to show the risks Marcelo Bielsa is going to continue to take as he continues Leeds’ dream run.
Leeds will travel to London to face West Ham United next Tuesday. They will be looking to take revenge after losing the reverse fixture 2-1 back in December.
VISIT OUR BLOG TO GET YOUR FIX FOR ALL OF THE MOST CURRENT FOOTBALL NEWS STORIES & FEATURES