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Reason For Optimism But Room For Improvement

After the opening few games of the season, Steff Ladley takes a look at Leeds' start and prefers to see a glass half full with reasons for optimism despite the lack of wins thus far.

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It may be a little early to try and judge a team or make any assumptions based on 3 weeks of fixtures but there has been enough on show in Leeds’ first five games for people to analyse and start to have their own opinion on Uwe Rosler’s side.

Four points from four league games is probably a little harsh in terms of points on the board considering how Leeds have played, but it is not too bad a start and to be unbeaten after four is something Rosler can take forward to Derby on Saturday. Interestingly enough, Derby are also four games in with neither a win or defeat on the board and they also feel they probably deserve a few more points at this early stage.

Probably the biggest frustration so far has been the two games in which we have squandered leads late on. The Burnley. game was a tight affair and no one could argue with a point. Having said that, going 1-0 up in the 83rd minute and not going on to see the game through is disappointing. If that was disappointing, the Bristol City result last Wednesday was a real blood boiler. 2-0 up approaching stoppage time, Leeds let the two goal lead slip in the minutes added on and this left a real sour taste after what was up until the closing stages a very clinical and resolute away performance. T

he Sheffield Wednesday and Reading games were both matches with little chances and although you could argue we pressed slightly more than the opposition no one could disagree that a win probably would have flattered either side.

This should have left Leeds with possibly eight but definitely at least six points (Bristol City) from the opening four games. Although these are only early days and there are so many points still to play for, seeing Leeds a bit further up the table would have enabled anyone involved with the club to view the start as being more positive than it is currently being viewed and if the wait for a first win carries on then pressure will soon start to build.

Chris Wood scoring in the last two games is something Leeds can definitely take as a positive and something that bodes well for the coming games. Although the critical tweets and comments that were already starting to build on social media were absolutely ludicrous just two weeks into the season, the goal at Bristol City and then his first one at Elland Road against Sheffield Wednesday a few days later can only increase Woods’ confidence and make him hungrier to keep the goals flowing.

Furthermore, the link-up between Wood and Mirco Antenucci has been the highlight of Leeds’ attacking play thus far with Antenucci doing tremendously well to push his way into the starting XI off the bench already. Rosler has openly stated his desire to play three in the middle of midfield but such has been the impact of Antenucci he has pushed his way in as a second striker. Rosler now has the choice of a 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 (more of a 4-4-1-1) and these formations will probably both be used in the coming weeks.

As well as the forwards, the back four has started the season relatively well, especially the full backs. Charlie Taylor and Berardi have been extremely solid and little has got past either of them, while Sol Bamba has showed leadership and calmness in the middle of the defence. Bellusci or Cooper are yet to establish themselves as Bamba’s partner, although neither has really let themselves down when called upon. The fact the two of them have rotated and also that we are being heavily linked with Liam Moore this week does suggest this is an area the manager feels we could strengthen. Silvestri in goal came in for some criticism against Bristol City but Rosler backed the young shot stopper after the game and there seems to be no urgent need to drop Silvestri for Turnbull at this point.

The one area of the pitch Leeds seem to be looking for answers is in central midfield. Byram and Dallas have started solidly on the wings and both shown they could be a handful whilst still showing they have room to improve. Another winger may still come in to offer competition as the two of them may not be enough as the season goes on. It is inside of the wide players we seem to be looking for the right balance.

Alex Mowatt has yet to really hit form and has been almost a peripheral figure in the opening games, whilst Cook’s red card at Doncaster left him sitting out a few weeks. Young Kalvin Phillips came in and showed promise next to Tom Adeyemi, who seems to be the one guaranteed starter thus far due to his defensive qualities, although this could change as Luke Murphy regains full fitness.

With Wood leading the line, there seems to be too many midfield options if Antenucci continues to play off the front. With Fernando Forrestieri being linked for £3 million from Watford this week who plays in a similar position, there could be as many as five central midfielders fighting for just two places in the team. Whether Rosler plays with a no 10 in the shape of a second striker or decides to play someone such as Mowatt in that role will be interesting in the next few weeks as he seeks to find the right balance in that area through the centre of the side.

To conclude, a decent start from Leeds who after 4 games have yet to taste defeat. A couple of decent performances away from home could have yielded more and the club really would be looking a bit more comfortably had they not blown up at Bristol City. Still, with the possibility of a couple of new additions before the deadline closes there should be plenty of encouragement for Rosler and reasons to be content with how the season has started.

On a side note, regardless of whether we end up signing Forrestieri or not I had to bring his play acting for Watford to the attention of anyone who reads this. Comparing Forrestieri to the enigma that was Adryan is hopefully not a sign of what is to come should he sign, but I really am not sure whose theatrics were worse last season. You might not believe me but Forrestieri’s actually got the opposition player sent off. Honestly. Who is your winner? See the links below.