Coming into Saturday’s game at home, we all expected Leeds would have been able to walk away with all three points again a lowly Cardiff side. Unfortunately, it did not happen that way.
A 2-0 defeat at Elland Road vs. Cardiff City is definitely not an easy pill to swallow.
But since we are home to Bristol City on the 14th, we definitely can’t hang our heads on the loss. We have another opportunity to prove our worth in just a few days. Let’s go through the three key takeaways from the game and then move on.
Talking Point #1: We still can’t defend set pieces.
If there is one major problem we had on Saturday, it was a return to being unable to handle set pieces, a huge flaw at Leeds United for years now.
We got caught ball watching, and it led to easy goals. Garry Monk must clean this up, even if Cooper starts again on Tuesday. We should not be at the point where every time the opposing team gets a free kick in our half, we get worried because knowing our defensive issues on set pieces, we will probably get scored on.
This is a huge issue that Monk needs to focus on in training. We can’t keep conceding these goals if we want to get promoted to the Premier League.
The last issue I have with our defending is our man between the sticks, Rob Green. Yes, he has been really great in the past stretch of games, but he is old, and he hasn’t come out on corners or free kicks to punch the ball away. After this season, we need to find a new goalkeeper to make the jump to English football. Maybe someone like Ethan Horvath? Oh well, that is another issue for another time.
Talking Point #2: When we struggle to not concede goals, we also fail to score goals.
After looking at this game again this weekend, I realized we did not trouble Cardiff City’s goalkeeper Allan McGregor nearly enough. When the defense gets into trouble and we concede, the offense can’t flow and get into a rhythm because the opposition bunkers and we’re worried about making a fatal mistake. Leeds did not play their brand of football on Saturday.
When the team can’t play their style of football, they gets frustrated and begin to make stupid decisions. Liam Bridcutt was sent off in the loss because of two bookings he had received. For someone of his caliber to receive a red is ridiculous, and this is something that Monk’s players must be smarter about moving forward. Losing Bridcutt for Tuesday will be difficult to deal with.
Talking Point #3: Leeds’ game was Reading-esque: nothing but pointless possession.
Yes, it is true that usually the team who dominates possession ultimately wins the game. On the other hand, sometimes the teams who can counter-attack effectively come out on top, and that is exactly what happened on Saturday.
As you can see above, we had 71% possession. 71%! When a team dominates possession that much, they usually dictate the outcome of the game. For Leeds though, they had what I call “pointless possession.” When you dominate possession but fail to create chances, this is pointless... and boring too.
Even though Leeds had 16 shots, double the amount that Cardiff City had, we only managed to put three shots on target. This is not what we’ve come to expect this season; usually when we have a ton of shots, most of them are on target. Not good enough.
Leeds’ first home defeat in seven games is nothing to be happy about, but we have another home game in just a few days, and I have to hope Monk and his men will be looking to bounce back effectively. We cannot lose any more ground in the race for promotion. Hopefully we can return to the good feelings of the last few months tomorrow: otherwise February will be as depressing a month as we’ve had since August. MOT.