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Antenucci and Doukara: An Effective Partnership

One of the biggest stories surrounding Leeds this past summer was the loss of Ross McCormack. His transfer left a gaping goal-scoring gap at the club, but Mirco Antenucci and Souleymane Doukara have given Leeds fans hope. As the season continues their strike partnership will be valuable.

Antenucci and Doukara have made up for the loss of McCormack in the season's early-goings.
Antenucci and Doukara have made up for the loss of McCormack in the season's early-goings.
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

The 2013-14 Leeds United season was arguably the year of Ross McCormack. The dynamic Scottish striker found the back of the net an impressive 29 times for the Whites and welcomed awards such as the Players' Player of the Year and Fans’ Player of the Year. His stellar goal-scoring rate even earned him a place on the Professional Footballers Association Team of the Year.

However, as the Elland Road faithful know very well, McCormack no longer suits up for the Peacocks. After an 11 million pound transfer this summer he now dons the badge of Fulham, another Championship team. Long gone are the days of seeing the sturdy Scot burst into the penalty area and sweetly striking a ball past a helpless goalkeeper.

McCormack’s impact was a significant one as he often drew the opposition’s best defenders, but his influence can best be summed up through statistical means. His 29 goals accounted for slightly more than 45 percent of Leeds entire offensive output in all competitions. Needless to say, his loss left a gaping hole that needed replacing.

There never was going to be a singular player who would come in and replicate a goal scoring rate like McCormack produced last year. So, Leeds adapted a design by committee approach during the summer transfer window. The hope was that a collective group could make an impact resemblant of McCormack’s phenomenal 2013-14 season.

As Leeds’ campaign is now approaching its midpoint, it appears that this strategy is starting to pay dividends. The club ended up signing Mirco Antenucci, Souleymane Doukara, Billy Sharp, and Nicky Ajose, all of whom are forwards. Since, Ajose has been loaned out and Sharp has scored a solitary goal. But, plaudits ought to go to the club for securing the signatures of Antenucci and Doukara, who are already proving to be shrewd signings.

The two make up Neil Redfearn’s preferred strike partnership and through Leeds’ 20 games, the two have proven to be a handful up front. Doukara has brought a great deal of pace and strength, whereas Antenucci possesses calmness and class in front of goal.

More important than their individual skills though is their ability to find the back of the net. A striker can get into good positions, but if he doesn’t finish he’s hurting himself and his entire team. Despite Doukara and Antenucci’s short time at the club, the two are showing no signs of early season struggles that sometimes plague signings.

The 23 year-old Doukara, a Frenchman, has chipped in five goals so far from his 16 games played. As for the 30 year-old Italian Antenucci he has been a little more prolific. He has knocked the ball home now eight times in the 17 games he has played. In combination that means the two have contributed 13 of the 23 goals Leeds has scored this year, which breaks down to 56.5 percent of the team’s total.

Now, neither player is solely going to be able to be the next Ross McCormack for Leeds, but Doukara and Antenucci’s early season form is a sign of positive things to come for the club. The two are sharing the brunt of the responsibility and this has allowed both to thrive in their own right, as they’ve each quickly etched a place in the starting eleven.

Yet, there is no denying that everyone desires for Leeds to score more goals. After all, the team is averaging only 1.15 goals a game and in the Championship that often doesn’t quite cut it. Doukara and Antenucci have done their fair share of lion’s work so far, but both are going to have to pick it up some if Leeds wants to achieve more positive results down the road.

In all likelihood, when the season is completed neither’s goal scoring total will rival the numbers McCormack put up last year, but they don’t have to. As long as goals come in from various places and the responsibility is spread around, Leeds should have no problem filling the goalscoring void that McCormack’s transfer left. If all goes right, Doukara and Antenucci should continue to knock balls in as their partnership improves and the two ease into life at Leeds.

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