Leeds Utd 0
Chelsea 3 (Mount 3, Pulisic 55, Lukaku 83)
Oh dear, oh dear, Leeds what is going on? Defeat to Chelsea means it’s a full house of 12 defeats, home and away to all the big-six and, if we do go down you don’t need to look much further than that to explain it. 12 defeats, 8 goals scored and 47 conceded. The causes, well, that’s probably a catalogue of errors made on and off the pitch throughout the season.
I suppose we have to accept that we would probably have lost to Arsenal and Chelsea in these two games this week under any circumstances, but the manner of the defeats does not give any great hope that we can now suddenly shake ourselves down and come out all guns blazing against Brighton and Brentford, although that is what we surely must do.
Against Arsenal, we gave up two easy goals to the opposition and then committed Hara Kiri as Luke Ayling made a rash tackle and got himself sent off. There was really no way back from there and we probably only came close because the Gunners were keeping their powder dry for later encounters, saving themselves for their Champions League quest. We did at least show some fighting spirit in that second half.
Against Chelsea, as Jesse Marsch has said, it was a case of Déjà vu. The first goal came even earlier this time but, while the defending wasn’t great (I’d question why Jack Harrison thought it OK to not bother to track back with Mount), you just have to take your hat off to Mason Mount for the way he unerringly sent the ball curling into the top corner; it was a moment of pure Premier League quality that Leeds simply do not possess. We all thought Raphinha was the one player we had who does possess such talent but we really haven’t seen it now for weeks on end. It was Dan James this time who had the rush of blood to the head but the timing, give or take a couple of minutes, was identical to ‘Bill’ s miscalculation. Once again, there was very little chance of coming back from a goal and a man down against one of the strongest sides in the division. We’d well and truly kippered ourselves again and this time that spirit and endeavour we saw at the Emirates was missing.
And the nature of the second and third Chelsea goals was also worrying. OK, Chelsea had the extra man by then and, once again, their build-up play was mesmeric, but should Meslier have done better? He didn’t move and may have been unsighted but it didn’t look great. Should Llorente have been tighter to close down Pulisic? I know we don’t ‘man-mark’ anymore (other than the one James put on Mateo Kovacic’s leg!) but surely we mark? The third Chelsea goal was just a catalogue of errors. Again Diego Llorente was front and centre stage as he took an age to decide what he proposed to do with the ball, something you just can’t do at this level, and certainly not against any of the big-six. It was no surprise therefore that he was ambushed and mugged and Chelsea broke at speed towards the Leeds goal. Even then though, we had ample chance to stop Lukaku – at least three of our defenders were trying – but we failed and somehow he was allowed to scoop a shot through the flailing arms of Illan Meslier. If it wasn’t’ so serious it would be laughable.
So, how bad are we at the moment? As I say, playing a top side of the calibre of Arsenal and Chelsea with ten men for an hour doesn’t really allow us to judge very fairly but, even considering that, we did look poor tonight, even worse than we did in the first half on Sunday. We didn’t manage a single shot on target all game for example. I guess there is no point debating it really, we just have to hope and pray that we were made to look poor by two very good sides who we gifted heart-breaking early goals to and then sacrificed a man. I’d hazard a guess though that, should we be so foolish to do it against Brighton and Brentford then those results will look very similar.
We are in the last chance saloon now; we’ve said all along that our best chance of points from the final five games would come in these next two, so now we must prove it; if we fail to turn up in these two then I for one would have to accept that we deserve to go down. For me the table doesn’t lie anyway so, per-chance we find ourselves in the bottom three come May 22nd, then we are the third-worst team in the division and all those who constantly told us there were at least three teams worse than us, were wrong.
Why it has all come to this, is for debate once the football has finished. We all have our ideas, and there is no one reason, but let’s hope we stay up and can regroup in the summer and start to do right the many things we’ve done wrong this time.
Leeds Utd Chelsea
Possession 32% 68%
Shots 5 17
On Target 0 4
Corners 1 5
Fouls 10 14