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Bees sting as Leeds suffer first defeat in five

There was a mugging in Leeds LS11 on Saturday, Brentford escaped unhindered and left Leeds wondering just how they managed to lose this one. Outfought and outmuscled in midfield, Leeds weren't the combative force that they had been in the wins over Huddersfield and Bournemouth.

Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

The figure of '5 saves' is from WhoScored; Squawka give it as '3 saves' (table below)

Like all good things, Leeds' run of four games unbeaten had to come to an end. However, the defeat, whilst disappointing, wasn't of the calamitous capitulation that Leeds fans had become used to as 2014 dragged itself to a sorry close. The new formation has given us poor fans a glimpse of a better future but in this game it wasn't to be. Brentford largely controlled the game due to their dominance with the ball, having 28.90% more touches of the ball (593 touches to 460 touches) and making 35.90% more passes (420 passes to 309 passes) than Leeds did.

Marco Silvestri’s distribution accuracy showed a slight improvement in this game from a season-low 31% accuracy last week to a 36% success in his distribution; this came from 2 successful goal kicks, 3 successful throw and 5 successful kicked/passed clearances. Despite conceding one goal, Marco Silvestri made 3 saves in the game which gives him 77 saves for the season and is good enough for him being the 4th-ranked keeper in the Championship in the total saves category. Marco Silvestri’s shot-stopping ability is keeping Leeds in games that they really deserve to lose.

Despite losing, Leeds weren’t over-run in defence and actually looked quite comfortable at times – barring the minute of madness leaving a player unmarked at the far post that is. Sol Bamba continued his good start in a Leeds shirt with another solid display at the back: winning 66.67% of his tackles (2 successful from 3 attempts) but also making another 7 interceptions to take his total of intercepted opposition passes to 16 in total. He also continues to be Leeds’ most dominant aerial defender winning 2/3 of the contested headed situations that he has faced. Scott Wootton, much ridiculed by some, continues to fill in adequately in his unnatural right back position, winning all his tackles today (2 successful) and also having 2 interceptions of opponent passes. It has been a more settled unit over the last 5 games and it will be interesting to see how Giuseppe Bellusci can force his way back into the starting line-up after his return from suspension come the next game against Reading.

Leeds were simply outpassed and outfought by the Brentford midfield and were a pale imitiation of the cohesive force that they had been that handled Bournemouth and Huddersfield to record two wins. Billy Sharp played a more advanced role, so I have included him in the strikers table but the remaining four midfield players were simply muscled out of the game by a more organised Brentford midfield unit.

The above 'heatmap' graphic illustrates perfectly the underactive and disjointed Leeds midfield wen compared to the harder-working and much more cohesive Brentford midfield unit. Jon Sigal in his article 'Leeds 0 - 1 Brentford: Pluses and Minuses' sums this situation up perfectly saying,

"In Leeds' recent run of rich form, creative and dynamic players such as Lewis Cook, Sam Byram, and Luke Murphy have all been at the heart of it. While it is unrealistic to think these players will put in man-of-the-match performances every week, all three left a lot to be desired against Brentford."

Defensively, the Leeds midfield quartet did manage to attempt 16 tackles between them, Lewis Cook leading the way with 8 attempts, but only completed 9 of these tackles successfully (56%); Lewis Cook was the biggest culprit missing 5 of his 8 tackles attempts (37.50% success rate). In a more attacking sense, Luke Murphy sparkled without gleaming, creating 3 shot assists (chances) for teammates and completing all 3 of his tackle attempts (100% success rate). In order to improve, Leeds United’s midfield unit simply needs to be more attack-minded and not let themselves be dominated as often as they were positionally against Brentford.

Yet again, for all their industrious running, support play, tracking back and sense of urgency...Leeds United's frontline produced, well, nothing of worth. Despite having 7 shots at goal, there were no actual goals. The one positive for Leeds fans was that they got to see new signing Edgar Çani run out in a Leeds United shirt for a 12 minute cameo where he managed to get in 2 shots (both off target) and create 1 shot assist (chance) for a teammate. With the Steve Morison experiment not really working, it will be interesting to see whether coach Redfearn perseveres with him [Morison] up front or whether he switches to the new man in what might prove a Çani move for Leeds United.