Blackburn Rvs 2 (Graham 2, Lenihan 70)
Leeds United 1 (Klich 45+1)
Ah for crying out loud! This was old Leeds wasn’t it? A huge expectant crowd turns up after an international break against a side with an appalling home record and we have three key players back available after long lay-offs…. And it all goes pear shaped!
The reason it went pear shaped is patently obvious; for whatever reason we got caught out by two corner kicks that were met comfortably by the foreheads of two Rovers players who are good at doing such things while Gaetano Berardi and his fellow defenders meekly allowed them to do so. However good we then are at the other aspects of the game we are unlikely to come out on top if we continue to allow such soft goals to mount up against us. Just for the record, Leeds again bossed the possession to the tune of 68%, fashioned 20 attempts at goal and managed to hit the target with 6 of them; decent statistics under normal circumstances.
So why were we so poor in those defensive situations? I am tempted to suggest that we missed Luke Ayling, both in trying to stop the ball coming in and at the set pieces; at the very simplest level he’s a few inches taller than Gaetano! I read somewhere this week that last season we won 51% of the games we played with “Bill” in the side and only 16% of those without him! Some folk scoffed at me for mentioning it! I know it is impossible to allot cause and effect in such things but, well, let’s see how we get on against Ipswich with Luke back… For now it is an uncomfortable fact that the headers we conceded to day looked very similar to lots of such headers that counted against us in the second half of the last campaign.
For now I’m not going to get too down about this result even though there is a little voice inside my head whispering; “It don’t half seem like last season’s collapse starting again”, a strong performance and three points against Ipswich will restore everyone’s faith in the players and Bielsa’s ability to get the best out of them. But if we were to fail again, then it would be hard to avoid the conclusion that we are still suffering exactly the same frailties that became obvious at the business end of last season. As I say, for now I don’t even want to go there…
The rest of the game today didn’t’ give too much concern, other perhaps than the annoying lack of a decent final ball that seems to spoil most of our attacks. We looked much better at that I thought once we had Pablo on the pitch and I for one am hoping he is considered fit enough to start on Wednesday. I think it’s an inescapable fact that we are a class side with him in it, but much less so without him, just as we are without “Bill”.
So, let’s just avoid coming to too many knee jerk conclusions until we have seen what happens on Wednesday. I’m nervous, but I’ve not given up hope yet!
Blackburn R Leeds Utd
Possession 32% 68%
Shots 18 20
On Target 6 6
Corners 7 11
Fouls 10 16