We have just reached the halfway point of the season, Leeds United sit 5th in the table and on target for Andrea Radrizzani’s pre-season target of reaching the play-offs. We started the season brilliantly by going unbeaten for the first 9 matches in all competitions, but a terrible run of 8 defeats in 11 matches brought the club and the fans back down to earth.
This run even had some fans calling for Thomas Christiansen to be sacked (although it is fair to say it was always a minority). However, the club kept faith with TC and in the 7 matches since the trip to Brentford Leeds have won 5 and drawn 1, with the only defeat coming to probable champions Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Will probably split this into two articles as otherwise it could be very long.
Felix Wiedwald - Grading Wiedwald’s performances this season is a little bit of a strange task. He has kept 9 clean sheets in 18 matches which is undoubtedly an impressive statistic. However, his errors against Sheffield Wednesday, Leicester City, and Queens Park Rangers cannot be ignored and earlier in the season his work in dealing with crosses left a massive amount to be desired. It must be noted that his spell out of the starting line-up coincided with some of Leeds’ poorest performances and the defenders look far more confident with Wiedwald between the sticks than they did with Andy Lonergan there. Has improved recently and the last game against Hull City was probably his best performance of the season. 6/10
Leeds have now kept 13 clean sheets at home in the @SkybetChamp in 2017 (calendar year), more than any other side.— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) December 23, 2017
Clean sheet number 9 for the season for Felix Wiedwald. #LUFC #MOT pic.twitter.com/YVNRyt0VDD
Andy Lonergan - Lonergan was signed with the intention of being a back-up player and had that remained his role there wouldn’t be much to say about him. He was brought into the side after Felix Wiedwald’s poor performance away at Sheffield Wednesday (who was dropped harshly in my view). Lonergan did fine for the most part but two very poor performances either side of the victory over Middlesbrough ended his run in the first team. His performance against Wolves was poor but the performance away at Brentford was the second poorest Goalkeeping display I have ever seen for Leeds United behind only Paul Rachubka against Blackpool in November 2011. 5/10
Luke Ayling - Not been a patch on his consistently stellar performances of last season. Had a particularly awful run where he kept running too far forward and costing us goals when the opposition winger was able to create a chance/score himself by exploiting the space Ayling had left (the home games against Reading, Sheffield United and Derby County were all matches lost at home where we conceded in this fashion). He looks as if he needs a rest having played pretty much all of last season and barely missing any football this season either. 6/10
Luke Ayling has been great but he looks like a player who needs a rest to me #lufc— Gary Peck (@GaryPeck66) December 2, 2017
Pontus Jansson - Didn’t have the best start to the season, in his own words he “personally had been shit”. Signed a new 5-year contract showing the commitment both from the club and the player and his performances picked up following it. The last few games in particular he has been as good and as consistent as you will ever see at this level. 7/10
Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson certainly isn't holding back on Instagram over his recent performances pic.twitter.com/qEDxqHcTYQ— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) October 16, 2017
Liam Cooper - Probably the surprise package of the season. Even Leeds fans that were fans of Cooper wouldn’t have expected him to start every week, and even fewer would have said he would do so as captain. He has flourished this season and has established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet. Had one shocker of a game away at Cardiff City but other than that has had a really good season. Hasn’t had the highs of his centre-back partner Jansson, but also didn’t have anything approaching his poor form either. 7/10
Gaetano Berardi - If this was purely on heart and determination Berardi would probably get a 10 every week. Has done a solid but unspectacular job in a less-favoured role at left-back and has certainly done a better job than the other players who have had a few goes at the role. It could be worth Leeds signing a left-back if the right player was to become available but I would be fine with Berardi until the end of the season. 6/10
Matthew Pennington - Was really good on the opening day of the season against Bolton Wanderers but unfortunately got injured. Came back into the side after Liam Cooper’s Red Card at Cardiff City but only lasted four matches before losing his place. Had a particularly awful game against Sheffield United in the 1-2 defeat, improved against Derby County but has been reduced to late substitute appearances since then. An able back-up. 5/10
Conor Shaughnessy - Another surprise package. Before pre-season wasn’t expected to get much game time but TC took him on the pre-season tour where he impressed and has done average to well whenever he has been called upon. One very naive shirt pull on the opening day of the season gave away a penalty, offset by terrific performances against Fulham, Burnley in the League Cup and another against Ipswich Town showed he is ready to step up when needed. 6/10
3 things in life certain: Death, Taxes & Conor Shaughnessy winning his header #lufc— Sean G (@SeanyGee) November 25, 2017
Vernon Anita - I still see his best position as in defensive/central midfield but has been used as a left-back for the most part when he has played this season. Is generally better on the ball than Berardi in that position but seemed that wingers had an easier time beating him than they do Berardi, hasn’t done a great deal but there is a reason he isn’t in the side. 5/10
The annoying thing is Anita could walk into most top Championship clubs and be a real asset for them. Don't know what he HAS to do to get a game, even at LB he was decent #lufc— Liam Moore (@_livefastdieold) December 9, 2017
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson - On paper CBJ is probably our best option to play left-back, unfortunately for him football is played on grass and his performances have not been up to standard.Got a chance against Burnley and was absolutely terrible, was having a good game against Leicester in the following round but got injured. 4/10
That’s the Goalkeepers and the defenders done. Check back later for the Midfielders and Forwards.