Sheffield United 0
Leeds United 1 (Hernandez 82)
Wow! Just wow! That one feels good doesn’t it? I think this is our biggest result of the season so far coming in the biggest test since our complete capitulation to West Brom three weeks ago.
When I saw the line-up, while sat on the coach taking us from the pub to the ground, I have to say I was disappointed; disappointed that there was no Samu Sáiz in the starting XI yet again. I felt the best way of defeating the high flying Blades was going to be by getting at them from the start and using the wit of the likes of Samu and Pablo to undo them, on a ground where they’d lost just one game this season so far. In fact, only Leeds and Norwich had gained more points from their home games than Sheffield United.
The strange thing is, I’d been under the impression that the reason for Samu having been benched lately was due to Marcelo’s desire to grab even more possession than we’d been getting with him in the side; the logic being, I reckoned, that the addition of Adam Forshaw who is more ‘careful’ with the ball than the risk-taking Samu, would do that. The weird thing is though, for the first time this season, the opposition actually DID have more possession than we did today! Maybe that proves the point, maybe had we approached the game in my more cavalier manner, we’d have given the Blades even more possession and maybe they’d have managed to do something with it! As it played out, we managed to limit the home side to very few real chances despite all the ball they had in a first half in which Leeds played a very ‘careful’ and measured game. Each side tested the opposition’s keeper just once in that first half and that despite Leeds losing Captain Coops as early as the 21st minute; he was replaced pretty seamlessly by young Aapo Halme without much drama.
My guess is though, that the first half was still not actually panning out exactly how Marcelo wanted it to, he did actually want a bit more adventure, and he wanted it out wide. At half time he replaced Alioski with the more direct Jack Clarke, like for like on the left wing, while suddenly we had Kemar Roofe out on the right wing with Pablo playing down the centre! Now I’m no coach so I don’t have any idea what that was supposed to achieve but, miraculously, Leeds suddenly became the dominant force and we started to even up that possession stat a bit more. From a similar number of attempts, Leeds, for once, got 6 on target, with the Blades’ young keeper Dean Henderson doing well to stop efforts from Clarke and Klich while Roofe, Klich and Douglas all had efforts go just wide. If any side was going to edge this one, it now looked more likely to be the visitors. Unfortunately for Henderson, it was his careless action that gave Leeds the winner as he failed to account for the presence of Jack Clarke as he stretched to try to prevent a corner. Clarke was lightening quick to steal the ball off Henderson’s toe, poking it across to Pablo who stabbed it home into the unguarded net.
So, it was a very different sort of a Leeds performance, a really disciplined, tight, containing sort of a performance in the first half and it looks like another piece of crafty coaching from Bielsa… dare I say it, it was almost a plan B!
Sheff Utd Leeds Utd
Possession 56% 44%
Shots 12 11
On Target 2 6
Corners 9 3
Fouls 14 9