Leeds United 1 (Llorente 18)
I predicted Leeds would win this game 4 – 0. Some folk will know that years ago it was my go to match-day bet, every game, but for this one I thought I had good reason to go with it. Watford are a poor side, a side still trying to get up to speed in the Premier League this season. On the other hand, Leeds had been showing signs of getting back somewhere near to our great form of last season with dominant performances for large chunks of the games against both Newcastle and West Ham, albeit in both cases we didn’t last the full 90 minutes. This time I was confident we’d finally get our just deserts.
That we didn’t win this one at least 4 – 0 will remain a mystery to me for a long time to come. Leeds dominated the game throughout as we continued to show the improvements of recent games, while Watford were every bit as poor as I thought they would be. For the third Premier League game running we got off to the perfect start too, Diego Llorente celebrating his welcome return to the side with a bit of quick thinking; instinctively poking the ball home after a corner rebounded off Watford's Juraj Kucka at the back post. It was the sort of instinctive finishing we could have done with from our attacking players for the rest of the game as chances came and were squandered far too often.
In fact the only negative from the performance today is an age old failing that we seem to have been plagued with for as long as I can remember! We were spoiled throughout last season with some finishing of the highest quality, often from Patrick Bamford, but once again today, and of course without Paddy Bam-Bam, we showed a distinct lack of ruthlessness in the final third. Too often our forwards appeared to be in perfect shooting positions, only to make one more pass to try to make the chance even better, by which time we were usually closed down. I can understand why we are tempted to do that of course because our shooting today, as it has been throughout the early weeks of the season, was quite simply awful.
I lost count of the number of times Stuart Dallas launched the ball over the bar but it wasn’t just him. We racked up 20 attempts towards the Hornets’ goal today but only a paltry four hit the target! It wasn’t just our shooting though, it was our crossing of the ball as well, time and time again, we’d get the ball out wide on one wing only to then lash it miles over everyone in the middle to find the wide man on the opposite wing! In the Premier League, chances to put in good crosses or openings for a shy at goal are rare opportunities; when they come around we have to be more ruthless.
This time we were able to get to the finishing line without having to curse our lack of a clinical finish too harshly. It’s a problem that I’m sure Marcelo will be aware of – it is after all one that has cropped up numerous times during his reign at Leeds – and I’m sure we will find an answer, we owe it to ourselves to sort it out because it is preventing us getting the rewards the rest of our play deserves. Once again, we looked back to our pressing, pacey best today while the addition of Llorente in the heart of the defence just added a sense of calm and control that we’ve missed since he’s been out. Jamie Shackleton looked assured in that right back slot, which is good news as it seems Luke Ayling will be out now for a while. Rodrigo continues to improve although he doesn’t ever give the impression he’s going to score boat loads of goals; why should he, he never has throughout his career, he’s always been more famed for his assists than his goals. Raphinha continues to be the jewel in our crown, the one player guaranteed to create openings. For me, Stuart Dallas still looks way below par while Matty Klich must be due for one of his special goals. For once Illan Meslier, apparently the busiest keeper in the division so far this season, had little to do, although he perhaps ‘got away with one’ when his bit of a fumble was rendered unimportant as the resultant Watford ‘goal’ was chalked off for a foul that ought probably have been given the other way! Equally it could be argued Dan James should have won us a penalty when he was blatantly pulled back in the area... but we never get those and "where the f******g hell is VAR" when we ned it! LOL!
So, a comfortable win despite the narrow margin shown on the scoreboard and plenty of positives to continue to build on. Maybe a few hours on the target range for the few players who won’t be going away on international duty might be worth a try! Without Bamford we don’t really have an out and out goal scorer in the side… although we all think there was one on the bench again today. I wonder what ‘Joffy’ thought as so many shots rained into the Kop?
Leeds Utd Watford
Possession 67% 33%
Shots 20 5
On Target 4 1
Corners 6 3
Fouls Committed 10 16