The final preseason game was the first time that many Leeds United fans got a good chance to see many of the new players in action against for an extended period of time. While much of the focus has been on the new attacking players that the team has brought in, one of the standout performers of the preseason win against Oxford United was the new loanee from Everton, Matthew Pennington.
Pennington played three games for Everton in the Premier League last year, including starting at CB, and scoring, in the Mersyside derby against Liverpool. Now while he was sent out on loan after he he moved further down the depth chart at Everton, after Everton purchased Michael Keane from Burnley, he has already shown glimpses of the talent that made him a highly regarded prospect for the blue half of Merseyside and why Leeds were so keen to bring him in on loan.
Pennington gets away with a dodgy back pass that almost goes out for a corner. Leeds attacking the empty South Stand. 0-0. 2 mins. #lufc— Lee Sobot (@LeeSobotYEP) July 29, 2017
Paired with Liam Cooper in central defence, likely because of the suspension of Pontus Jansson, Pennington was thrown out without a net against Oxford. He had a shaky moment to begin the game, with an ill advised back-pass to the new goalkeeper from Werder Bremen, Felix Wiedwald, but after a few minutes, he seemed to settle down and got into the flow of the game.
Good strong challenge from Pennington on Thomas as Oxford threaten. Solid. 1-0. 75 mins. #lufc— Lee Sobot (@LeeSobotYEP) July 29, 2017
Pennington made two fantastic tackles in the game while on an island against Oxford forwards, while playing well most of the game, helping to ensure a clean sheet in the team’s debut at Elland Road this season. While Christiansen has hinted that the team might be interested in going after a few more new players during the summer transfer window, and the club has been linked in the press with a number of central defenders, as of right now, Pennington is it. And he’s got pretty big boots to fill, as it appears that Kyle Bartley will not be leaving Swansea City for a return to Leeds United, no matter how much the fans want him back.
The display against Oxford will have helped make Pennington’s case to be in the starting lineup against Bolton Wanderers on Sunday, as without Jansson the backline has a number of questions. But for now, it appears that Pennington has one half of the CB partnership down against Bolton, if he keeps it once Jansson gets back is another story.