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Leeds United vs. Sheffield Wednesday: Three takeaways from a much-needed derby win

Leeds picked up a crucial win on Saturday as a win over Yorkshire rivals sent the Whites to fourth in the table.

Leeds United V Sheffield Wednesday  - Sky Bet Championship
Kyle Bartley was a rock once more alongside Pontus Jansson in the Leeds back-four.
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

In a month that brought a mixed bag of results and performances for Garry Monk and his side, last Saturday's win over Sheffield Wednesday was a great way to see out February.

Coming off the back of a nervy draw at Portman Road, you could have been forgiven for feeling slightly on edge prior to Leeds' lunchtime kick-off in front of the lights.

A 23rd strike of the campaign for Chris Wood however was enough to see the home side over the line and give the promotion push a new lease of life.

Talking point 1: Leeds' back line looking incredibly solid

The solidarity of the Leeds United defence has become a crucial element to the promotion challenge this season.

Of course, the unrelenting force of Wood up front has more than played it's part, but the consistency in selection and performances among the back four has been the real shining light.

It doesn't just stop at Jansson and company however, as Rob Green has more than earned his coin between the sticks - especially in recent weeks.

An acrobatic reach to his left to deny Jordan Rhodes an equaliser for Sheffield Wednesday from the spot epitomised the veteran's form of late.

The away side had the lion’s share of attempts at goal on Saturday lunchtime, but a dogged, disciplined and organised Leeds back-four kept the likes of Fernando Forestieri and the aforementioned Rhodes at bay with relative ease.

The absence of Charlie Taylor has seen Gaetano Berardi go from strength-to-strength with each passing match (minus a slightly questionable outing at Huddersfield) and will no doubt give Monk a selection headache once Taylor is fit to return.

Despite Leeds' apparent strength in defence, the blanking of Wednesday was only the first clean sheet since the 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest, seven games prior, on January 25th.

Room for improvement, as always.

Talking point 2: Midfield still proving a conundrum

This issue has received plenty of attention over the last little while, especially here and here.

The defence and forward positions pick themselves these days, but the middle third of the field is never a certainty.

This time, Monk went for a central partnership of Eunan O'Kane and Liam Bridcutt. Part of me can see why he opts to leave Ronaldo Vieira on the bench playing second fiddle - his dynamism and energy can provide an extra bite in later stages - but the former pair are too similar.

Of course, Monk knows best; we know that. There was obviously a reason for selecting the pair, but I feel as though (O'Kane especially) sits a little deep at times. I can't help but feel that it invites unnecessary pressure onto the defence.

As an extra chapter to the ongoing wingers debate, yet another combination was trialled, as Hadi Sacko and Souleymane Doukara were deployed on the flanks.

Again, the wide players were largely ineffective, with Sacko living up to his usual industrious, but wasteful self. Doukara on the other side wasn't much better, only making his presence felt when he fouled in the box for Wednesday’s penalty.

I think Monk selected the partnership to try not to disturb the flow and consistency of the side too much, but feel as though the game at Birmingham can - and needs - to be a chance for Alfonso Pedraza and Modou Barrow to try and make their marks.

Talking point 3: Wood's goal scoring knowing no bounds

He's been the man of the moment all season long... picking up points seemingly all by himself, nicking goals when we need them most.

Chris Wood has made a huge claim for the club’s player of the season already, and we're not yet into March.

His strike against local rivals Wednesday saw him join Newcastle's Dwight Gayle atop the Championship top scorers list, on 20 league goals.

Much of the transfer market talk centered around finding a back-up should the worst (touch wood) happen to the Kiwi as the season begins to head towards the business end of affairs. Thus far, not needed.

It's becoming more and more apparent that the knowledge and expertise of Leeds forward coach James Beattie has been invaluable to Wood's development this campaign.

Scoring only 13 goals in the league last season, Wood looks to be on course to double that total this time around.

Let's just hope - for all our sakes - that he keeps on ticking over just nicely, just enough to fire us into the promised land. MOT.