Leeds United 0
Swansea City 1 (Routledge 90)
It's hard to be critical of Marcelo Bielsa’s team selection when we've only just run into our first defeat of the campaign and when we’ve failed to score for the first time in our opening eight games and yet there is a question that I’m sure is burning in the minds of all Leeds United fans; it certainly is in mine! When will we see Helder Costa and Nketiah start together in a league game?
You can argue that nothing much has seemed wrong in the opening eight games; we’ve scored plenty of goals, looked mostly solid at the back, and, for the most part, played excellent football along the way. And yet…
And yet we all know that the team we’ve seen start so far this season (Carabao Cup games excepted of course) is last season’s team with Ben White replacing Pontus Jansson. And we also remember that this group of players had two major faults throughout last season; we missed boatloads of chances through poor finishing and, at the other end, when put under pressure this defence is liable to give away soft goals.
The latter problem has not been seen much this season so far as we’ve dominated games to the extent that our back line has actually had very little to do and we’d only conceded 4 goals before today, so the Swansea goal maybe no more than a reminder that we do still have it in our locker to give up a goal too easily. The real issue though is up front and, if we could solve that, then the odd goal conceded would be no more than a minor annoyance.
Yet again today the Stats tell us we had 21 attempts at goal and yet only hit the target three times! Put the other way around, out of 21 attempted headers or shots, we missed the target altogether 18 times! Well, to be fair, we only missed the target 9 times and a further 9 efforts were blocked before they went anywhere. But for me that’s not good enough. And that’s where that question about Costa and Nketiah comes in; would they improve our stats?
The only way we will find out surely is to start them in a game? We know Bielsa is nothing if not loyal to his current successful starting XI and I’ve discussed before whether he has ever “dropped” anyone…I’m not sure he ever has, least ways I could only remember him swapping Phillips once during a game (down at Swansea funnily enough) and that was more of a formation change anyway and he was straight back in next game.
Whenever we’ve seen Costa come on he’s looked far more dangerous to me than say, Jack Harrison. By most fans' reckoning, Harrison has had a good start to the season and I’ll admit he’s often in the game… but I do question what his possession and wing play actually results in. By contrast, with Costa, in the short bursts we’ve seen him on the pitch we know he causes problems. He gets to the byline, beats defenders, wins corners and gets the ball across the face of goal. Nketiah always looks sharp and he’s got three goals already and he seems to fit well with Costa. In half an hour today Eddie conjured up two good attempts although, sods law….. they both missed the target!
The story of today’s game was one we saw countless times last season; we dominated the game but our finishing was poor and hence giving away that (admittedly) rare goal cost us the points. We will never know if we’d have scored had Costa and Nketiah been on the pitch from the start and equally we’ll never learn anything if we don’t experiment. If we travel to Barnsley in two weeks’ time and return home with all three points having started exactly the same XI, then no one will mention this, but surely we have to bite this bullet at some point don’t we? Or do we have to wait for injuries to force our hand. If we do, and we drop points in the meantime then that could be too late.
Leeds Utd Swansea C
Possession 62% 38%
Shots 21 7
On Target 3 2
Corners 6 5
Fouls Committed 15 10