Match day 30, the first of what is going to be a challenging month for Leeds United. The Whites were at home at Elland Road, hosting Cardiff City. The Welsh club sat in 4th on the table entering today’s game with Leeds on the outside looking in, sitting in 10th. A tough match-up no doubt, but if we claim we’re a club that claim we want to contend for the Premier League, these games are the ones we have to win. Matthew Pennington replaced the injured Connor Shaughnessy in the starting XI, otherwise Thomas Christiansen’s lineup remained unchanged. A minutes applause for the late Jimmy Armfield, and we’re off!
Going into the match, if Leeds were to win they would have to figure out a way to deal with all the height that Cardiff possess. But almost immediately, Cardiff were on the offensive. Three minutes in, and the Bluebirds had a corner. And after 10 minutes, Leeds didn’t clear a corner kick that found its way to Armand Traoré whose cross found the head of Callum Paterson, who got it in the back of the net for a Cardiff Goal. 0-1 | 10’
Cool. We’re down already. That almost makes me happy, because in 2018 it feels like Leeds don’t wake up until we’re a goal down if we’re lucky. So, one could hope that, since this goal was early, the players would wake up and get on with a win. Pierre-Michel Lasogga almost proved me correct. The Prime Minister got the ball at the top of the box and let out a curling shot that goalkeeper Neil Etheridge did well to keep out. Truthfully, I thought Lasogga was being selfish before he shot the ball, but I can’t be mad with the end result. The happiness didn’t last long, as Cardiff answered back with an attack of their own. Callum Paterson was free on the left and crossed it in to Yanic Wildschut, who had an open goal but put it over the bar. Cardiff’s gameplan clearly was to utilize their height, and they were sticking to it.
In the 26th minute, it looked like everything was going to be okay again. Pablo Hernandez found Lasogga from point blank range, and the man managed to head it against the underside of the crossbar. I’ve never been so close to throwing my phone against the wall, how the hell do you miss that!? The rebound found Alioski but Etheridge made the save.
This is a brief portion of the game where all hell broke loose. Gaetano Berardi went spuds up on Gary Madine and got booked. As this was going on, Lasogga was still down from a clash with Sol Bamba, but no one noticed. Minutes later, as if it wasn’t bad enough for Leeds, Pontus Jansson had to be stretchered off with an ankle injury. The only defender Christiansen had on his bench was Stuart Dallas, who isn’t a defender by trade. I know he wasn’t too good at Leonesa, but why not at least put Ouasim Buoy on the bench? I don’t believe he’s hurt, is he? Dallas came on for Jansson in the 31st minute, with Berardi moving in to play center back. Gary Madine got booked for a tackle on Berardi in the 35th minute, and Leeds had a chance to tie the game not long after when Stu Dallas found some space inside the box but didn’t hit it nearly well enough to trouble the keeper. Scoring goals isn’t a thing Leeds seem to have forgotten temporarily, so Cardiff showed us how to when the Bluebirds broke a counter attack and caught Leeds, with Paterson playing a low cross to/shot wide until Junior Hoilett got on the other end of it and squared it away for a Cardiff Goal. 0-2 | 41’
Oh, it wasn’t done. Just before half, some more mayhem. There’s five minutes of added time, and within those five minutes the following happened
- Joe Ralls gets booked for a foul on Adam Forshaw
- Gaetano Berardi GETS A SECOND YELLOW AND SENT OFF for a tackle on Madine (again!)
- Cardiff score again thanks to no one marking Sean Morrison from a Hoilett free kick 0-3 | 40+5
I don’t know how to put the emotions into words, so I will walk away from this as I walked away from the stream, only coming back to watch the rest of the game from around the 60th minute.
In that time: Christiansen came out of half time with Laurens de Bock, Adam Forshaw, and Pennington. Ten minutes on, Dallas came down the right and gave a low cross which Sol Bamba tried to clear but ends up driving the ball into the net for a Cardiff OWN Goal 1-3 | 55’ nice to see ya baggin em for Leeds, Sol!
As the 60th minute hit, it seemed to cause Cardiff City’s Marko Grujić to have a mental breakdown. In an attempt to corral Kemar Roofe away from a ball that was rolling out for a goal kick, the Liverpool loanee kinda just ran into and pushed him over. No card Minutes later Alioski is trying to do something fancy and Grujić steps hard into him. No card. Not long after that Grujić tries a... half assed attempt to knee Dallas in the body? No.Card. Even the announcer on ESPN3 found it hard to believe that he hasn’t been booked. I’ll leave a video below, make your own opinions. (Grujić would eventually get a yellow, but not for any of these challenges)
What you have there, in my eyes, is a 21 year old kid who isn’t used to English crowds, especially at stadiums such as Elland Road. One errant tackle seemingly led to another. Even Cardiff players were trying to calm him down. If someone like me can see that, then I’m ashamed that Thomas Christiansen or anyone on that sideline didn’t catch on and try to take advantage. Find the guy who is most competant with the ball on the pitch, and attack Grujić over, and over, and over, and over. Samu Saiz would have eaten this kid up.
Moving on, Thomas Christiansen didn’t do himself any favors trying to win his crowd over when in the 73rd minute, TC subbed Lasogga off for Hadi Sacko, leaving Leeds with no big presence up front. The philosophy of “beat height with speed” wasn’t looked at too kindly by Leeds faithful.
Chants of 'you don't know what you're doing' towards Christiansen. Starting to turn here. We've got 16 minutes left. 1-3. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) February 3, 2018
Cardiff had cruise control the rest of the way. Nothing much worth talking about happened until Christiansen’s favorite teenager Jay-Roy Grot(offense) came on for Ronaldo Vieira(defence-ish) in the 86th minute, and two minutes later Leeds lose the ball outside their box and Paterson finds Anthony Pilkington who doesn’t miss for a Cardiff Goal. 1-4 | 88’
A shocking performance. Lets hope Pontus Jansson isn’t out for long, not getting a center back is probably gonna bite us in the distant future. Forget about this one, and try to move on. MOT