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.
This is the second half of an article, the Goalkeepers and Defenders are available here.
Kalvin Phillips - A season where he has improved drastically. Has always put in the effort but in previous seasons he was very limited and didn’t seem to be as fit as he is this season. Has brought goals to his game, setting himself a target of 10 goals that he looks likely to reach. Going into the season wouldn’t have made my personal starting XI, safe to say he does now. Some games his tackling has been terrific, with some of the tackles leading directly to goals. 7.5/10
That's correct. Phillips is joint-second for most tackles won in the Championship now with 69 alongside Joe Williams, only Massimo Luongo has won more (76).— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) December 23, 2017
Ronaldo Vieira - Missed a lot of the early season which caused some consternation among the fanbase but this was explained away when it was made public that he had been dealing with an injury. Is now established in the side again and has performed well in a role where he has had to be very disciplined and play quite deep to compensate for Phillips’ more attacking role. 7/10
Love that TC trusts Vieira and Phillips to be our centre midfield pairing at only 19 and 22, they should be in our squad for the next 10 to 12 years in my opinion #lufc— Ryan Pinnick (@RPlufc93) December 19, 2017
Eunan O’Kane - Started the season in the starting line-up, played quite well through the early season unbeaten run before having the worst game he has had in a Leeds shirt away at Sheffield Wednesday. Has been in and out of the side since then but still looks a very good option at this level and he will be important for the rest of the season particularly over the busy Christmas period. 6.5/10
Brilliant performance from the boys today! I thought we did the basics well, worked extremely hard and took enough of the chances we created to get our rewards #MOT #Together pic.twitter.com/COpxYhzAkb— Eunan O'Kane (@eunan10) November 19, 2017
Mateusz Klich - Most of his games have been in the League Cup and he did okay but no better in those games. His only start in the league game came away at Cardiff City and he fell over the ball and cost us a goal. Has been fairly vocal with his displeasure on Twitter and I would expect him to leave in January. 3/10
Ezgjan Alioski - His performances have been roughly in line with the team as a whole this season. Started the season well and claimed a few Man of the Match awards (Sunderland and Nottingham Forest away were his particularly impressive games). His form dropped off during Leeds poor run but a goal away at Brentford brought back his confidence and since then he has been very impressive playing on both the left and right hand sides. A fantastic signing so far. 8/10
Alioski and Sáiz both grabbed an assist in the 3-1 win over #QPR, taking their combined total in goal involvements to 19 (10 goals, 9 Assists). Have you been impressed by the two playmakers? #LUFC #EFL @FostersUK pic.twitter.com/nenHCaFrRs— StatZone (@StatZoneSports) December 12, 2017
Samuel Saiz - Player of the (half) Season - It is a joy to watch him play football. When he is at his best he makes opposition players look incredibly foolish. Nine goals, five assists, and a debut hat-trick that gave him a serious act to follow. Follow it he did though and there can be no doubt that he is the player that makes Leeds United really tick. Even when he isn’t at his best he has been able to make something happen out of nowhere and we lost a lot of fluency against Hull City with him out injured. A player who looks like he should not be playing in the second tier. 9/10
Saiz should just be given the ballon d'or now. The guy is beyond brilliant. His work rate is phenomenal to go with #lufc— kris (@edge_lufc) November 25, 2017
Pablo Hernandez - One of the better “number 10s” in the division but has been forced to spend a lot of time out on the left to accomodate the very impressive Saiz. Has done a good job out on the that side despite not being as quick as he once was. Has shown some real quality at times including a couple of fantastic goals, the goal away at Leicester City and the winner against Hull City being particular highlights. Another player who is a joy to watch on his day. 7.5/10
Pawel Cibicki - Played a couple of League Cup games earlier in the season, didn’t pull up any trees, looked like he was never going to get a look in, was being grouped in with Klich as people who may leave. Came off the bench away at Queens Park Rangers when Caleb Ekuban got injured and hasn’t looked back. Played really well there and in the win against Norwich City, a little quiet against Hull but has made himself a first team player. Can’t score him too highly as he has only played three league games. His crosses (particularly from dead-balls) look very threatening. 6/10
Christiansen on Cibicki: "If he's here it's because he is good enough. You have to take your opportunities." #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) December 9, 2017
Stuart Dallas - A very stop-start season for the Northern Ireland international. Has performed well when he has been called upon but has had too many injuries to make the level of impact he would like to. Played well in the League Cup but has only made two starts in the League (Cardiff away, Derby home), one of which was at left-back. His main impact has come as a substitute where he has got a couple of important goals. A player I really like, hopefully he gets fit soon. 6/10
Hadi Sacko - A good substitute appearance away at Burnley in the cup looked to have saved his Leeds career. He got a few chances after that but didn’t really take advantage of any of them. Another who could be shown the door soon. 4.5/10
️ LEEDS UNITED FANS!— FootballLeagueWorld (@FLeagueWorld) December 21, 2017
Do you expect your club to let Hadi Sacko go in January? #LUFC
Kemar Roofe - Has also been used out wide but has been most effective when playing as a central striker. His performances have been hit and miss this season. He has scored two hat-tricks and has nine goals overall but has also had some poor games in between. Far too inconsistent to be challenging for player of the season but a very useful option in a couple of positions. 7/10
Caleb Ekuban - Still to be convinced of his finishing ability (one goal v Port Vale). His work-rate and harrying of defenders has made him popular among the fans and when he does play his style opens up a lot of space for the likes of Saiz and Alioski. Not our most talented striker but will get some time off the bench when he returns to fitness and will ‘do a job’. 6/10
Pierre-Michel Lasogga - Our best striker when he is on form. Had a great start with 2 goals and an assist on his debut against Burton Albion and played well against Ipswich Town and Bristol City. Some fans have really got on his back for a perceived ‘lack of effort’, and at times I have been one of them, performances like the ones against Brentford and Reading are unacceptable. He returned from injury against Hull and I would start him on Boxing Day. If he gets some confidence he has the ability to play at higher level than the Championship and his goalscoring/assists record is not bad at all so hopefully we see him improve. 6/10
Finishing. Lasogga is the best pure finisher we have at the club. Pace and pressing isn't his strong point but give him the chance and he'll finish 9 of the 10 opportunities he gets.— Daryl (@Dazelar29) December 23, 2017
Jay-Roy Grot - Not going to go off on one as it is not all his fault. Doesn’t look like scoring if he played 1000 minutes and bottles out of too many challenges. Thomas Christiansen needs to give him some time playing for the u23s to see if he can gain some confidence. Hopefully he realises the potential that the selectors for the Netherlands must see. 3/10
PLAYERS WHO DIDN’T PLAY ENOUGH FOR A SCORE
Rob Green - One game against Newport County in the League Cup (5/10). Dropped a clanger. Went to Huddersfield Town. N/A
Madger Gomes - Started left-wing v Newport (7/10) and played 20 mins v Port Vale at left-back (6/10). N/A
Eoghan Stokes - Played “number 10” against Newport (5/10), didn’t do much. N/A
Liam Bridcutt - Came on as sub against Port Vale (7/10) and played well, went to Forest, debut v Leeds, Leeds win 2-0. N/A
Chris Wood - Goal and an Assist on opening day v Bolton (7.5/10), missed easy chances in 0-0 draws with Preston North End (6/10) and Fulham (5.5/10). Gave a pathetic statement when he left.