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The Bielsa Way: Comebacks, clean sheets and crackers this Christmas

Looking back at the great run over the Christmas period, we now look ahead for Leeds United in the second half of the season.

Leeds United v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship
It’s been an incredible Christmas for Leeds United, filled with emotion and drama.
Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites have shown a hell of a lot of character this Christmas. We go into the new year top of the Championship and standing in good stead halfway through the season. Following a long trip back home from West Bromwich Albion, Leeds kept two clean sheets and took maximum points against Bristol City and Reading FC. Peacock-Farrell’s last minute penalty save made up for previous mistakes while temporarily silencing the critics. This Christmas has seen the emergence of Jack Clarke. The young game changer made his first mark in his assist for the Hernandez winner at Sheffield United, a fantastic result and our third clean-sheet in a row. A 2-1 win against Queens Park Rangers would do for the Whites in a typical Championship ninety minutes. Meanwhile it was becoming typical that Norwich would benefit to late drama while Leeds just kept winning. Bamford’s booming return to first team football showed up at Bolton Wanderers, another clean sheet and three points.

Then came the late drama for Leeds. A crucial trip to Dean Smith’s Aston Villa who has begun a revival for last seasons play-off finalists. Skip to half-time and Villa lead 2-0, and you know how the story goes. Something crucial to notice is that from the defeats so far, it has been at our own doing most of the time, not that we have played particularly poorly, and more rather in the moments. Leeds were the better team at Villa Park and the character and quality of the team, with a little bit of luck, brought the ball to prop itself up for our top goal scorer, Kemar Roofe. His drilled finish gave Leeds a sixth straight win and a first at Villa in eighteen years. Next was a tough game as Blackburn Rovers visited Elland Road. It was one of the few times so far this season that Leeds have been ahead at half-time. But bad luck struck, an early and very questionable penalty was put away by Mulgrew a minute into the second half before his late free kick, another poor decision led to Rovers walking the path towards a double. But the Leeds character shone through again. A raid reply from Leeds brought the score to 2-2. But Leeds will always go for the win, Roofe’s brilliant header gave Leeds the deserved win in the most dramatic circumstances.

Sheffield United v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship
Marcelo Bielsa isnow halfway through his first season in this Leeds United adventure.
Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

But the visit of Hull City brought too much this time around. Two defensive errors and rebounded goals gave Hull the happy trip home. Despite Leeds being two great saves and two goal-line clearances from winning the game, it just wasn’t our day. As we roll onto the new year, hopefully Bielsa’s Whites start another winning run. Over the last month, it has been a really gritty and at times crazy run of form. Now we have a new transfer window, Leeds must invest in five or six new players. Keep a hold of our already transformed squad which deserves to be top. Meanwhile, we also have players in the squad who can make a great difference, just as Bamford scored on his return, Tyler Roberts made a very positive impact on Saturday. A return for Cooper and hopefully a return to football for Izzy Brown will arrive very soon.

If Leeds can play the window right and keep going and fighting, we can look forward the second half of the season. It’s going to be a huge four months or so for Leeds United.