Whoooweeee. Before we go into any detail at all on the game against Aston Villa yesterday evening, look at this……
I keep checking the table on my phone every hour or so just to make sure we’re still there.
In a very Garry Monk style performance (again), Leeds got the job done in a very resilient fashion. Kemar Roofe’s first Leeds United goal set us on our way and Chris Wood (as always) put Villa to the sword, leaving no last minute nerves at Elland Road.
Talking point 1: The first half sent me to sleep!
If you’re have trouble sleeping at night, just watch this first half over and over again on LUTV. Two teams cancelling each other out is what most would call it, but I just thought it was Leeds not having a plan B for Villa’s high pressing game.
The ball seemed to go between Green, Bartley, Jansson, Ayling and Taylor for most of the half, with Villas front 4 being right in their faces until one of them made a mistake and Villa failed to take advantage.
It was a good game plan from Steve Bruce: get at Leeds and make them work for possession. We kept the ball well and didn’t make many mistakes but we also didn’t have any urgency to get it forward, which led to a game of “keep away” that was dull to watch.
Leeds with the best chances but they're playing very deep and Villa's pressing is disrupting their flow. #lufclive— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) December 3, 2016
Talking Point 2: Attacking quality makes the difference in the second half
To counter the first half of boredom, Leeds really got going in the second. Souleymane Doukara and Hadi Sacko seemed to drop back more, giving Leeds more options to play out from the back, and everyone seemed to have a greater sense of urgency and purpose.
Once that happened, Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira seemed to take the game by the scruff of the neck, and Villa’s midfield just couldn’t keep up. You could tell a goal was coming in the final half hour as the game opened up for both teams and it was a brilliant cross from the Douk and a glancing header from a well-positioned Roofe that got Leeds off the mark.
Roofe has been getting better and better over the past month and this could be the goal that really kick-starts his Leeds career. He got goals-a-plenty down at Oxford and it shouldn’t have taken him this long at Leeds, but boy it was well worth the wait.
He has adapted to the number ten role in the past few games, shining at Liverpool on Tuesday, and he doesn’t seem afraid to bomb past Chris Wood when the chance arises. Adding this attacking threat into an already aggressive front three is going to make all the difference if we can keep it tight at the other end.
From there Leeds went from strength to strength had several chances to put the game to bed. When we did it was of course a goal from the big Kiwi, with a bit of reluctant help from Sacko.
Wood saved Leeds from a nervy final minute and sent more than 30,000 Leeds fans home happy.
We lacked it in the first half, but in the second our attacking threat was there for all to see. Phillips and Roofe seem to get better and better every game they play, and with Wood scoring consistently I don’t think there is a team in the Championship who wants to run into Leeds just now.
Talking point 3: Leeds United are the real deal
I’ve been sold on this season being something special for a while, but there were still a few out there who thought this good run of form would end.
Now there can’t be any doubt: in an incredibly tough month where we’ve played a local derby, the league leaders, premier league title contenders and Norwich......... Leeds have shown quality, fight and class.
We will have to play better than we did today if we want to beat Brighton and Reading in the next two games, two important games, but I am certainly not going to bet against Garry Monk’s men or game plan in either of them.
We will at some point over the next few months have a blip and lose a few games. We shouldn’t, but that happens. That said, it’s becoming near on impossible to see Leeds dropping out of the play off picture come the end of the season.
Sitting in fourth today, aiming for top of the table by season’s end. MOT