Leeds United 2 (Harrison 3, Bamford 52)
Crystal Palace 0
That was as comfortable as it gets I guess in the Premier League… and yet it still felt very nervy throughout! Our stats were actually not dissimilar to the defeat against Everton and my gut feel is that the key difference was that this injury hit Palace side was nowhere near the quality level of Everton at both ends of the pitch. Had they been then our two goals might not have been enough.
Leeds got off to the perfect start with a right foot shot from Jack Harrison… I’ll type that again… a RIGHT foot shot from Jack Harrison in the 3rd minute and, to be honest, Palace were not really at the races throughout the first half. The only thing missing from Leeds was a clinical finish on a couple of chances – Patrick Bamford in a one on one and Pascal Struijk with a relatively straightforward header from a Leeds corner. It’s hard to be too critical really; Bamford has shown he can finish superbly on occasion this season and not even Salah puts every chance away while Pascal is still learning his trade and was probably already celebrating as his forehead met the ball. It’s the level we’re at, we’ve all said it many times before. If it was Jamie Vardy chasing the ball with only Guaita to beat, or Virgil van Dijk diving for that header, Leeds would have gone in 3 – 0 up and would then probably have cruised to a 4 or 5 goal win. But we’re not there yet, we don’t have the resources to to go out and get such players, so there’s almost no point mentioning it.
My only other observation on this, almost, perfect performance from the Mighty Whites was that, yet again we played an awful lot of misplaced passes. I gave up counting them in the first half so often were we doing it – and not one player, most of them! Listening to Patrick Bamford after the game I’m tempted to give the benefit of the doubt to the players and put some blame on the pitch again. Good as it looks now, it is clearly still a difficult surface to play on with Bamford joking that he needed “rugby studs”. There were nowhere near as many slips and slides as we saw against Everton, but certainly a lot of passes went astray and several where the player was actually slipping over as the ball was struck. If it is the surface, then I’m sure that will improve if we can just get some sun on it once this Beast from the East II has moved on.
So, another three points from the sort of game where, at this stage of our development, we have to get them, and to be on 32 points and 10th in the table at this stage is way more than even the most optimistic Leeds fan could have hoped for; ask West Brom and Fulham where they’d rather be! We just have to continue doing what we are doing from here to the end of the season and we’ll have had a fabulous first season back.
Leeds Utd Crystal Palace
Possession 69% 31%
Shots 17 8
On Target 7 3
Corners 5 3
Fouls Committed 7 8