Tag Archives: Leeds United

Leeds United in serious trouble as Man City cruise to 7-0 thrashing

Marcelo Bielsa’s reign as Leeds United manager is surely hanging by a thread after they were thumped 7-0 by Man City at the Etihad Stadium.

City were dominant for the entire 90 minutes after they altered their formation to play with an extra attacker, and found the back of the net seven times with little defending to do.

Kevin De Bruyne (2), Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Jack Grealish, John Stones and Nathan Ake were all on the scoresheet as City outshot Leeds by 31-6, with 15 shots on target compared to just three for the visitors.

The result means City will stay at the top of the Premier League for another game week, with with seven wins in a row and nine wins from the last ten games.

But for Leeds however, the defeat means it’s just one win in seven games and three wins all season for the Yorkshire side.

Bielsa is now under pressure to not undo the great job he has done at Elland Road, after helping them get promoted after 17 years away from the top flight and then keeping them in the division at the first attempt.

Leeds have now become increasingly easy to play against, with most sides figuring out their man-to-man approach and being adaptable enough to change it up and beat them at their own game.

They have been without main man Patrick Bamford for much of the campaign so far and will be without star player Kalvin Phillips for two months after he suffered a serious hamstring injury, but that isn’t an excuse for such lacklustre performances.

The players look tired and out of sorts, bewildered by what they’ve been asked to do on the pitch and it seems as though the quality level has caught up with them at this point.

With their next three fixtures coming against Arsenal, Liverpool and in-form Aston Villa this could mark the beginning of the end for the Argentine’s reign.

His contract is set to expire at the end of the season and there is little suggestion it will be renewed this time, so maybe pulling the trigger six months early and finding someone to reinvigorate the team is what’s needed.

Whatever the solution, it needs to be found as soon as possible, or Leeds are in very real danger of relegation back to the Championship come May.


Leeds United desperate for Marcelo Bielsa to find his mojo again

After 17 years away from England’s top flight, Leeds United returned to the Premier League last season and were a breath of fresh air under Marcelo Bielsa.

The legendary South American oversaw a stellar Championship campaign with the Yorkshire side that saw them promoted as champions, with expectations among the fan base relatively high following their return to the grandest stage.

It was a great season too for the Elland Road faithful, as Bielsa’s extraordinary man-to-man tactics worked well and secured the club a ninth placed finish with a positive goal difference.

It was a nudge in the right direction for Leeds, who many neutrals were delighted to see back in the big time and performing well.

They play with swashbuckling attacking intent, often prepared to concede goals if it means they’re able to score a few more at the other end of the pitch.

They all trust each other on the ball and are comfortable and confident when it comes to playing their way out of tight situations. All the fortune that their bravery brought last season was well deserved, but this season has been nothing short of a nightmare.

After a 5-1 thumping on the opening day of the season by rivals Manchester United, Leeds have managed just two wins from the following 12 Premier League games so far.

Marcelo Bielsa, Manager of Leeds United looks on during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Leicester City at Elland Road on November...

They are languishing three points above the relegation zone, with just 12 goals scored and 20 conceded. Starting striker Patrick Bamford has missed a chunk of the campaign through injury, while Raphinha hasn’t quite hit the heights he did last year.

Kalvin Phillips also seems to be suffering with a Euro’s hangover after helping England reach their first major international final since 1966 during the summer. Overall, the performances have just been poor for the most part and fans are beginning to worry.

But beyond them all it’s Bielsa who seems to have lost his spark the most. He isn’t nearly as animated on the touchline as he has been in the past, and while he has made decisions to make substitutions early in games he seems to lack the decisiveness he usually possesses.

A team that clearly thrives on confidence, Leeds are bereft of it currently.

They’ll take on a Crystal Palace side next who are still transitioning into their full potential under Patrick Vieira but have started the season well. Only Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool have lost less games than Palace and they’re also one of only seven teams in the division to not have a negative goal difference.

Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United applauds the Leeds fans after the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United at Tottenham...

If Leeds are to start building momentum to survive this season, there is no time like now. They have seven games left in 2021 and four of them comes against the top three and Arsenal.

They need to win some games and sharpish, or they’re at a very real risk of being relegated at the second time of asking after fighting so hard to get back to where they believe they belong.

If anyone can provide a win for Leeds, it’s not the players on the pitch. It’s their leader off it and their tactical genius of a coach. He has all the tool and qualities to come up with something different for the team to get it to click again, and it must happen now.

Why David Moyes is the Premier League manager of the year

We’re entering the final weeks of the Premier League season and everything is all but settled already for the first time in a while.

Manchester City are set to be crowned champions for a third time in four seasons, while it’s already confirmed that Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham will be playing their football in the Championship next season.

Top four is the only thing left to play for at this point, although Leicester and Chelsea currently have a decent sized cushion above their rivals with only a few games left to play.

That means it’s time for the awards to come out for players and managers, including who the manager of the season actually is. There are a few contenders, but one who really takes the shine when it comes to evaluating the performance of their team but also in comparison with expectations and budgets.

One obvious candidate is the man who has led his team to the title, Pep Guardiola. Manchester City have racked up a fantastic season to earn a third Premier League crown in four years, wrestling the title back from Liverpool after the Reds struggled with several injuries.

It wasn’t all easy street for City though, as they struggled early on in the season with just five wins in their opening twelve games and sitting as low as ninth in December. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss rallied the troops though and put together a phenomenal run of 15 wins in a row.

Marcelo Bielsa, Manager of Leeds United and Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City look on during the Premier League match between Manchester City...

Guardiola used his experience and incredibly high quality of squad options to rotate freely throughout the tough schedule, but he tightened the defence up to have the best in the league while still maintaining an attack that has scored more goals than anyone else in the league.

You could also look at the other end of the table, where Leeds United earned promotion last season and this season have been excellent to claim a mid-table finish and win the hearts of plenty of neutrals.

Marcelo Bielsa’s attacking brand of man-to-man football all over the pitch has seen 106 goals scored in Leeds United’s games this season, more than any other team in the league. He has used his trademark system to put Leeds in a position where they can challenge with the mid-table sides after just one season and with limited options this season he has done a remarkable job.

He hasn’t quite done the job of a certain David Moyes at West Ham United however.

After taking over the team mid-way through last season, Moyes steered the Hammers to safety with just two games to spare but this season he has done the unthinkable by pushing them to the brink of Champions League football.

West Ham United's Scottish manager David Moyes gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and...
Hands up if you’re the manager of the year

A solid defensive system, successful in part to some excellent signings he made with a lower budget than most, Moyes has seen West Ham perform at a level far beyond even the most hardcore fan’s wildest expectations this season.

Only the current top four have been able to win more games in the season so far and only Liverpool below them have lost less games this season. Moyes has also been able to reinvigorate the career of Jesse Lingard after he joined in January, while he has been able to employ a system that has got the best out of new signings Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek and kept Declan Rice and Michail Antonio as important and influential as ever too.

Bringing the east London outfit all the way up the table in such a short space of time has shown everyone that he is still a great manager despite his struggles with Manchester United and Real Sociedad.

West Ham have been fantastic this season and in no small part thanks to the excellent performance of David Moyes, so he deserves to be the Premier League manager of the year.

Raphinha continues to shine for Leeds as they move into top half

Leeds moved into the top half of the Premier League with a tenth win of the season thanks to a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at Elland Road, with Raphinha shining once again.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side took the lead after just three minutes after a high press saw them win the ball back quickly before Jack Harrison smashed the ball past the goalkeeper via a deflection off Gary Cahill.

Leeds dominated the ball and the game from there on in and secured a second goal in the second half as Raphinha raced through on goal and saw his shot saved by Vicente Guaita, only for Patrick Bamford to tap in the rebound and seal the three points.

It was a top all round performance from the Yorkshire side, who moved into the top half with a victory.

It was once again the performance of the Brazilian summer signing from Rennes that caught the eye though, as he stood out among his peers as the best player on the pitch once again.

His intensity on and off the ball caused Palace problems all night, while his pace, agility and skill is what Leeds relied on a lot throughout the night. A ridiculous bit of skill in the first half completely embarrassed Gary Cahill and caused the former Premier League and Champions League winner to drag him to the ground and be booked.

A £17m signing from Ligue 1, Raphinha has made an instant impact in the Premier League and many fans are wondering how some of the top clubs were scouring the French league and failed to take a look at him.

In fact, so were Leeds’ players themselves as Patrick Bamford revealed in his post-match interview with Sky Sports.

“Raphinha is brilliant. To be honest he’s been a steal for Leeds, I’m surprised. As soon as he came in, we saw him in training, you know sometimes with players whether they’re good or top class, and he really was. He stood out straight away, so I’m surprised that bigger teams, more established Premier League teams I should say, haven’t taken a punt on him because he really is something special and he’s still young.”

When you take into consideration that Arsenal signed Nicolas Pepe from Ligue 1 just a year prior for £72m and that Manchester United were pursuing Jadon Sancho for the best part of a year since they both needed a right winger, it’s crazy to think neither of them came across the 24-year-old.

If they did and they passed up on the opportunity to sign him then you have to question their scouting departments considering how well he has taken to England’s top flight.

As for Leeds, they seem to have settled a bit more defensively from earlier in the season with their man to man marking all over the pitch. They’ve learnt to manage games a bit more, especially late on and are picking up points regularly.

They’ve scored 38 goals this season but they’ve also conceded the same amount and with a few more tweaks defensively, including cutting out costly individual errors, they could be in with a shout of pushing further up the table in the final stretch of the season.

Raphinha is stealing the show right now and don’t be surprised to see a few bigger clubs taking a closer look at him come the summer transfer window.

Leeds United: Brilliant Idiots?

The Premier League returned with a contender for game of the season on the opening day as Liverpool beat Leeds at Anfield in a seven-goal-thriller.

Mo Salah got a hat-trick and Virgil Van Dijk scored too as Leeds came from behind three times on the day but ultimately fell just short of a famous result.

They were largely praised for their performance on the day, and rightly so, but are they setting themselves up for trouble going forward? We’ve seen performances like this from newly promoted sides in the past. Norwich beat Man City 3-2 last season and were praised for their approach when getting battered 4-0 on the opening day to Liverpool and Blackpool lost 3-2 to Manchester United back in 2011. Both sides ended up getting relegated.

The difference between those sides and Leeds is that they have a real top coach. Marcelo Bielsa is renowned across the world as an elite tactician and a completely obsessive manager. His way of playing is almost always unfiltered and never adapted. He plays his way and his way only. Could that be a problem going forward though?

Leeds will try to keep hold of the ball for large spells and they will rotate across the pitch looking for space to disorganise the opposition and score as many goals as possible. Defensively they’ve never been the most stable but going forward they are dangerous. It was the same against Liverpool.

Now though, in the Premier League, the levels are different. Every team can punish you on any given day. They also won’t all be willing to play a stupidly high line in order to play their own style of play like Liverpool did.

Clubs like Crystal Palace, Everton and Southampton are all capable of playing several styles. Palace like to sit deep with two banks of four and use their quality attackers to transition quickly, which could cause Leeds plenty of problems. Southampton are capable of doing a bit of everything whether they want to sit in and defend or play football in an entertaining fashion. Everton are one of the better teams outside of the top six and will look to implement that dominance this season with their new signings.

Leeds will need to adapt their style. While it’s entertaining and exciting for neutrals, they lack the individual quality man for man to compete with a lot of sides in the Premier League. If they continue down this path it will go one of two ways, they’ll either keep losing thrilling games like they did at Anfield or they’ll find a way to win.

Is it a gamble worth taking? Would Leeds fans prefer a slightly less entertaining style if it meant they were more likely to stay in the Premier League for another season where they could then strengthen more to go back to their usual style.

It’s a tough ask for a team to go from the best in their division to instantly one of the worst, but that’s one of the problems that comes with promotion. I think Leeds will survive this season overall, but they’ll be dragged into the fight if they continue with this way of playing.

Premier League Fixtures Released for 2020/21 Season

The Premier League has released it’s fixtures for the upcoming 2020/21 season, including champions Liverpool taking on newly promoted Leeds United at Anfield on the opening day.

The new season will begin on Saturday September 12th 2020, although TV picks could see games moved to the Friday night. All 20 clubs have been announced the opening weekend, although it has been confirmed that Manchester City and Manchester United will both miss that first weekend following their participation in Europe this month. Chelsea and Wolves have also been allowed a slightly delayed start to the season.

Also on the opening day, Everton travel to North London to take on Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham while newly promoted sides Fulham and West Brom are both given home fixtures, taking on Arsenal and Leicester City respectively. As mentioned already, both Manchester sides will see their opening day fixtures postponed, meaning Burnley and Aston Villa will also get that weekend off.

Looking further down the season, Arsenal will host Chelsea on Boxing Day while Manchester United will travel down to Leicester City. Leeds United will host Burnley at Elland Road while Wolves and Spurs will face off at Molineux.

On the final day of the campaign, Manchester United will once again be away to a contender for the European places as they travel to Wolves while there will be an clash between two newly-promoted sides that could potentially have a huge say in the relegation race when Leeds United host West Bromwich Albion. Champions Liverpool will be at home to Crystal Palace while Manchester City will host Everton as both sides will hope to be in the title race again this season.

With no winter break for any clubs this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the season to start late, fixture order is actually a big factor this season. All clubs will need to use their full squad as we enter the middle stages of the season and the fixture schedule will be key in which games they can rotate in and for gaining momentum.

As clubs also voted against keeping the five substitutes rule for the upcoming season, squad rotation will be even more key. With the transfer window open until October 5th, clubs will be able to add to their squad once the season has begun and they will surely use it as a way to boost numbers in the squad as well as just for quality starting eleven additions.

Are you happy with your club’s fixture list? Let me know on Twitter.

Leeds’ Promotion A Great Thing For Premier League

After 16 years away, Leeds United were confirmed as a Premier League side once again as they sealed promotion from the Championship.

The Yorkshire club needed just one point from their final two games of the season to clinch promotion, but West Brom’s defeat to Huddersfield on Friday night meant that Leeds didn’t need to kick another ball.

It’s the first time we’ll see them back in the top flight of English football since 2003/04. For reference, they’ve been away from the Premier League for as long as Arsenal haven’t won the division. But it’s been a rollercoaster of a ride for them in between now and then.

The club was on the brink of collapse at one point after the charge for a league title and Champions League success failed them. They were forced to sell stars like Rio Ferdinand, Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Alan Smith and Lee Bowyer while failing to replace them adequately. At one point they even went down to League One after suffering yet another relegation. They were in administration and for the first time ever had fallen to the third tier of English football.

They slowly built themselves back up and have tentatively put themselves into the promotion equation over recent years, but they really took it seriously last season. The appointment of legendary manager Marcelo Bielsa was a statement that the club were ready to return to the top of English football pyramid.

Despite the beautiful football, high pressing and goalscoring acumen of his side, they crumbled under the pressure. It’s always been a bit of a theme with Bielsa sides that they fade away towards the end of campaigns because of just how much physicality his philosophy needs to work. It wasn’t any different at Elland Road as they fell away from the automatic promotion places into the play-offs and were ultimately eliminated by Derby County, losing 4-2 on aggregate.

Leeds United v Barnsley - Sky Bet Championship : News Photo

This year though, there was something different. Game management seemed to be more apparent and Leeds weren’t gung-ho for 90 minutes of every game regardless of result. When they were leading with a cushion, they played with a visibly lower tempo on the ball but maintained the intensity defensively when looking to win the ball back. This has seen them overcome the issue of not having a proper goalscorer in the side.

The loan signing of Eddie Nketiah in the summer looked like a genius signing, but the England U21 international struggled to break into the side regularly and was ultimately recalled by Arsenal in January. He wasn’t replaced and the club persisted with Patrick Bamford as the No.1 striker. The Chelsea academy graduate has scored 16 goals in 43 games this season, which isn’t horrendous. But if he is to be the main man next season they will have problems.

Leeds’ footballing nature will see them look to dominate possession and press high, something we’ve seen Norwich and Brighton attempt to do this season. It’s not ended particularly well for either side and with the gap in ability between sides at this level Bielsa may need to re-think his methods. That is super unlikely though and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Leeds struggle next season without big investment to help Bielsa in his wish to carry out his philosophy at the highest level.

Nevertheless, it’s great to see a club as big and prestigious as Leeds United back in the Premier League for next season. With Bielsa at the helm, another world class manager is added to the ranks of England’s top flight which should make for fascinating tactical duels.