Sometimes, this Leeds United side just amazes me, and on Saturday, they did it again with a wonderful display against a very decent Preston side.
I was full of optimism building up to the game and did predict a comfortable 3-1 win for the Whites. However, as we got closer to the start of the game, I became full of dread as I realised how important this fixture was in terms of our playoff chances. However, like at other pivotal times during the season, these players showed us why they deserve to be in the play off and showed us all their commitment to the shirt.
So, let’s get into it - Here are the three takeaways from a professional display by the Whites over the weekend at Elland Road...
Talking Point 1: Roofe & Hernandez
Since the drop in form, there has been discussion about dropping Hernandez and replacing him with Roofe. However, none of us really thought that maybe playing both men together would work... but I suppose that’s why Garry Monk is the manager of Leeds and we are not.
Together, these two men completely ran the show on Saturday. Their ability to interchange positions which each other meant they could constantly pester Preston with flair and determination.
The inclusion of Roofe added another dimension to the Leeds team. His willingness to get forward and support Wood allowed Hernandez and Pedraza the time and space to influence the game. Both men took their goals well and showed us all that together they are a formidable force and possibly the key to success for the rest of the season.
Kemar Roofe's first half vs. Preston:— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) April 8, 2017
2 tackles won
Brilliant first half display. pic.twitter.com/XrWSqgC6VY
Talking Point 2: Vieira and Phillips
Another popular discussion is who should play in the centre of midfield. Well, in the absence of our captain Liam Bridcutt, Vieira and Phillips set up and both staked their claim to be the starting centre midfield partnership for the rest of the month.
Ronaldo Vieira has the strength, the desire, and the natural ability to lead the Leeds midfield for years to come. I can’t remember at any stage throughout the match when he didn’t win the ball from a player, or a time when he mislaid a pass. If you wanted to show a youngster the benchmark for a central midfield performance, then you would show them Vieira’s performance from yesterday.
Kalvin Phillips also had a great game - a young lad who has come under some criticism for some of his performances this season - but he showed quality on Saturday as he didn’t put a foot wrong. I think Phillips is a player who, given another season, could be a starter every week for the Whites. Earlier in the season, we put too much pressure on the lad, which caused him to struggle.
But on Saturday, he showed he is starting to have the strength to deal with the pressure and, going on that display, Bridcutt could actually find himself on the bench come this Friday evening.
Talking Point 3: Three Goals... and Wood didn’t score?
The comments by Yann Kermorgant about the one-man team did disturb us a little before the Reading game, and he wasn’t exactly wrong. We don’t want to be a one-man team, even if Wood has scored nearly all our goals... and thankfully on Saturday, we proved that we are not.
Wood was unlucky not to score having a goal disallowed and another hitting the woodwork. However, Roofe, Hernandez and Doukara showed the attacking threat we possess.
We may have become a little reliant on Wood, but the Reading and Brentford defeats awoke the team to get beyond Wood and show their attacking ability. Going on Saturday’s performance, Leeds have changed their attacking mindset (especially Roofe) and teams better be prepared because it’s not only Chris Wood who should concern them - it’s also the other 9 men behind him you need to be aware of.
The game could have ended 5 (even 6)-0, as the attacking flair on show was immense.
Saturady is what we all needed, the manner of the two previous defeats stunned us a little. The lads showed us all their excellence and, more importantly, they showed they have the bottle to see the season out and finish the season in the playoff positions,
Well done lads. MOT