Bolton Wanderers 0
Leeds United 1 (Bamford 66)
Five wins on the bounce, six from seven games and just that West Brom capitulation in the midst of that run. I pointed out ahead of this game that in all of the previous five wins and the draw we got against Forest before that, Leeds had, unusually, had the rub of the green; The Roofe ‘handball’ goal, the Kipre step over, the Josh Brownhill red card, the BPF penalty save, the Dean Henderson goalkeeper clanger and the penalty against QPR were all moments that went in our favour and which can all be said to have had at least a bit of good fortune about them. Well, I thought we’d need some good fortune today too against what I guessed would be a difficult to break down Bolton side but, in the event, we didn’t; what we did get though was another piece of Pablo magic.
Bolton are in serious trouble; no win now in 12 games and just three points from 36 and only five goals scored in that time. They have their financial problems off the field too which can’t be helping morale and yet they were never going to lie down; they almost got a well-earned point at Norwich last weekend of course.
Step forward Pablo Hernandez; with no Saiz on the pitch and now with the likelihood that there will be no Samu full stop, it was to Pablo that we inevitably looked to supply the key to unlocking the Bolton defences. And just after the hour mark, he duly obliged, with one of those delightful little poked balls through the home defence, indeed through a defender’s legs, right into the path of Patrick Bamford who showed no rustiness at all in a) being on the same wavelength and b) in finishing with aplomb.
Leeds bossed the possession as we almost always do and restricted Bolton to zero shots on target while we fashioned 4 from 12 attempts. It was never pretty or flamboyant from Leeds but it was mighty efficient despite having to try to come up with another starting XI now that Saiz is out of the picture. Bielsa decided to keep as close as he could to the side that outfought QPR last weekend and a look at the match stats for both games show that he pretty much succeeded in bringing about the same performance. For me though, Lewis Baker is never going to be as useful to us as Samu can be and I’m not even sure Baker is the long term solution. Maybe if Izzy Brown is almost fit there is an opportunity to slot him straight into this side or we revert to using Aapo Halme at centre back and moving Kalvin back into midfield until we get some experienced centre backs back. It will be fascinating to see which way Bielsa goes for what looks to be a very tough game at Villa Park next Sunday.
The Villa game has the potential to be as dangerous to us as the trip to their neighbours West Brom proved so it will also be interesting to see what Bielsa has learned from that. One game to go to the half-way point and it would be oh so perfect to get there with only the three defeats against us. Fingers crossed.
Bolton W Leeds Utd
Possession 30% 70%
Shots 4 12
On Target 0 4
Corners 4 10
Fouls 14 11