2 Highs and 2 Lows from how Leeds United have started the season
Leeds United have made a positive start to life in their second season under the reign of Marcelo Bielsa after a playoff defeat earlier in the summer damned them to yet another campaign of Championship football.
A 1-0 defeat to Swansea City at home last weekend ended the Whites’ unbeaten run in the league but the manager has plenty of positives to take from the club’s impressive start to the ongoing campaign.
Indeed, those agonising memories of how Leeds blew away a golden chance to make it back to the Premier League last season are still likely to be fresh in the minds of the supporters.
However, the Whites have already laid down an early marker that they are once again going to be strong contenders for promotion this term and with that in mind, let us take a look at a few positives and negatives from their start to the season.
1. Absolutely no hangover of last season’s failure
Having seen their hopes of making a much-awaited return to the Premier League come to nothing last season, it was always going to be intriguing to see whether Leeds United would be able to put all the disappointment behind them and raise themselves to compete for promotion all over again.
Well, it’s only six games into the season but the fans at Elland Road should be pleased with the way their team has performed in the opening rounds of the season.
Those monsters from last season’s play-off agony against Derby County have hardly come back to haunt the Whites and the players certainly haven’t lacked any sort of commitment and motivation, as evident from their performances so far.
In fact, Leeds have looked like a well-oiled unit in most of the games and when at their best, the Whites have produced some sparkling attacking football to ensure that the fans get their money’s worth.
Leeds were the architects of their own downfall for a number of reasons towards the end of last season and Marcelo Bielsa certainly deserves a lot of credit for inspiring his team to a promising start this term.
2. Bamford and Nketiah getting amongst the goals
One of the key takeaways from Leeds United’s failed bid for promotion in the previous campaign was the absence of a prolific striker, with Kemar Roofe’s tally of 15 goals not enough to match the exploits of some of his counterparts from the promotion rivals.
And plenty of eyebrows were raised when the Whites sanctioned the sale of last season’s top-scorer, Roofe, this summer, whilst bringing in youngster Eddie Nketiah on loan from Arsenal to provide cover and competition for Patrick Bamford.
Bamford struggles with injuries and his failure to deliver the goods consistently had come back to haunt Leeds badly last season but the fans will breathe a sigh of relief following the former Chelsea man’s promising start to the ongoing campaign.
The 26-year-old has already chipped in with 4 goals and an assist in 6 starts, while Nketiah, yet to start a game in the league, has already netted thrice in all competitions, including the winner as a substitute in the 1-0 victory over Brentford.
With Tyler Roberts also on the comeback trail from injury, Leeds will be hoping that Bamford and Nketiah continue their impressive run of form in front of goal and more importantly, manage to keep themselves free of injuries.
1. Home Form
Bielsa, though, is likely to be aware of his team’s inconsistent run of form in the home fixtures since the second half of the previous campaign.
Leeds turned Elland Road into a fortress in the earlier stages of the 2018-19 season but their home form took a significant turnaround in the latter stages of the campaign, something that has continued to haunt them this term as well.
Leeds have won only one of their three fixtures in the Championship this season, with the Whites accumulating just 4 points in those 3 league games.
They also lost at home to Stoke City in the second round of the EFL Cup, a result which came as a surprise to many.
2. Defending Set-Pieces
Leeds currently boast of the best defensive record in the Championship, having conceded only thrice in their first six games in the league.
With new signing Ben White taking well to the surroundings at Elland Road and filling the void left by the departure of Pontus Jansson, the Yorkshire giants have looked rock solid at the back so far.
However, it is worth mentioning here that 3 of the 5 goals that they have conceded in all competitions so far have come from corners, a fact that might have gone under the radar due to their impressive start to the season.
That seems pretty ironical though, given that both White and Liam Cooper are strong in the air and very much adept at dealing with crosses.
This is something that a detail-oriented manager like Bielsa would have taken note of and the Argentine will certainly point it out to his defenders on the training ground once the international break gets over.
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Plus, the goal that they conceded against Swansea was a result of some sloppy defending, to be honest, with the players failing to get the ball away to safety on a number of occasions.