Leeds United 1 (Dallas 63)
Luton Town 1 (Cornick 50)
What a contrast to Saturday evening? Crikey, I’ve even decided that point doesn’t warrant a single malt so I’m on the Bells!
That second half against Fulham was as far removed from tonight’s performance as it is possible to imagine. On Saturday, once we had Pablo on the pitch, we were pacey, inventive, clinical and sharp. Tonight we were sluggish, awkward on the ball, leggy, and seemingly blinded by the light…
Marcelo Bielsa has come out tonight with his usual statement of fact: "The opponent needed two chances to score and we needed 12 chances to score once. It's a match that we should've won easily, because it was even clearer than the Cardiff match." But sadly, I have lost count of the number of times he has said this – it has been going on for his whole tenure at the club. Why have we not been able to do something to improve our conversion rate in over two years? Patrick Bamford, I’m sorry, is not good enough, and that’s something I’ve been saying for over two years as well! On Saturday he put away a very good finish for once, but the rest of his game was poor; poor touches, poor positioning and failing even to live up to what is his usual defence: “he holds the ball up well”. Tonight it was back to an unfathomable missed header in front of goal that has cost us two points as well as numerous poor touches. His failure to score more than his 14 goals this season from the number of chances he has seen is one reason why we are still worrying if we will get over the line or not. But it’s not only Bamford, in general all our forwards are poor in front of goal. Costa was at it tonight, like Bamford, seemingly blaming the Elland Road floodlights. It remains to be seen if someone at the club now defends them both by telling us that something has in fact changed with the angle or brightness of those lights. Personally, if they do, I will not buy it!
So chances were missed as they always are for us – quite why in his two years Bielsa has not been able to remedy that I’m not sure. A stubbornness in sticking with Bamford is a major part of it of course, had we been able to keep Roofe, or had we worked on building the team around the way Nketiah plays or had Big Kev been fitter then maybe we’d be promoted by now. It’s more than just Bielsa I’m sure, but if we are still only doing shooting practice for 15 minutes a day as he told us he did two years ago then that’s criminal!
The failure to make something from the massive number of corners we have won this season was also evident again; on one occasion Kalvin Phillips hit four consecutive corners in the same place, low to the near post and none achieved anything. Again, at this level that is not good enough. And again, we’ve had this problem so long (and yet won more corners than any other side!) that it is criminal we have not been able to improve in that aspect of the game. For some reason Kalvin is not at the top of his game either which is another worry.
So, those were the specifics, but it's hard to get to the bottom of why we found it so tough tonight; why were so many passes loose, why were so many crosses poor, why were we playing so slowly and why could a team like Luton give us so much trouble? It is just hard to understand.
It looks as though the injury to Coops is not serious and there was no mention tonight that Ben White has a problem despite looking in trouble late on, so injury wise, Dallas apart, we may be ok for Saturday at Blackburn, but we have to find that spark and brightness we had against Fulham or Blackburn will turn us over and then the worry beads will be well and truly needed.
Leeds Utd Luton Town
Possession 76% 24%
Shots 23 3
On Target 9 2
Corners 15 1
Fouls Committed 9 10