Leeds United 4 (Costa 5, 57, Klich 41 pen, Bamford 50)
Fulham 3 (Mitrovic 34 pen, 67, Cordova Reid 62)
Goodness me! And we thought the Championship was nerve shredding! Leeds are continuing to put us through the shredder every time they set foot on the pitch!
This was a Curate’s egg sort of a performance; good in parts. In fact, at times we were sensational again. But, there were elements of the performance that I’m sure will give Marcelo nightmares.
The good stuff first; Patrick Bamford had a purple patch today. I’ve been one of his biggest critics over the years, mainly for his regular spurning of decent chances. Yes, I was aware that his game under Bielsa is about more than that but I was still concerned he was just not clinical enough to wear the number ‘9’ shirt. However, his finishes last week and particularly the one today, have been as clean as you could wish for. Then, to follow that up with a run down the left wing and glorious cut-back for Costa to put us 4 – 1 up, was just superb and on this form you’d have to think Rodrigo will have his work cut out if he is indeed earmarked to replace Paddy. Helder Costa is also starting to look the player we all thought we were buying and now he’s adding goals to his game. And, overall, any performance that gets you 4 – 1 up in the Premier League must have some good aspects! Our finishing was different class from what we’ve seen in the past although there are as many question marks over the Fulham defence as there are over ours and that has to be kept in mind. Never the less, we hit the target with 7 of our 10 shots and the finishes of Costa and Bamford were sublime.
You can feel a ‘but’ coming can’t you? Defensively we were, as we were last weekend, all over the place and this time we can’t just shrug it off in terms of the quality of the opposition. You have to believe there are at least as many Premier League attacks as good as Fulham’s. The first goal given away was another poor bit of judgement from Robin Koch who is having a baptism of fire in England. His initial reaction was not to slide in but it was too late, he was on his way and Joe Bryan was clever enough to know what to do. I’m still not convinced there was any contact at all but you cannot slide in like that, you don’t even need to slide in like that, when the ball is so far wide of the danger area. I’m sure Koch is learning all the time but as a German international it’s surprising he hasn’t already, even at his tender age. He will.
Liam Cooper is way more experienced of course and should know what Mitrovic is all about but the way he was beaten in the air for the third Fulham goal was a worry. He was also fortunate that the regular pulling of the big striker’s shirt went un-noticed, or at least unpunished, by referee Anthony Taylor. He has to cut that out or it too will cost us.
Kalvin Phillips was caught the wrong side of his man Anguissa too, in the lead up to the second Fulham goal. It was rumoured that Phillips had a slight injury problem at the end of the Liverpool game and, for me, he wasn’t on his game again today, although he wasn’t the only Leeds player to needlessly try the ambitious pass when a simpler one might have kept us the ball.
So, it’s hard to pick all the bones out of this one; the three points is a major plus of course and, the way we played going forward suggests we’ll cause most teams a problem. We just need to tighten up the defence and possibly that is just down to a matter of time and particularly to build the partnership in the middle between Cooper and Koch. Then, a bit of game management wouldn’t go amiss, not only to ensure we always get the points but to save the stress on my old heart too!
Whatever faults we pick out though, a narrow defeat at Anfield followed up with a home win is a pretty damn good start. Sheffield United next and they will be more disciplined than Fulham without maybe the same ambition. It will be another tough test.
Leeds United Fulham
Possession 50% 50%
Shots 10 14
On Target 7 6
Corners 5 3
Fouls Committed 13 17