A quick look at three things that stood out for Leeds United in their victory over Norwich City on the weekend.
1. Kalvin Phillips can bounce back after a dodgy game
Kalvin Phillips was hauled off the pitch after 22 minutes against Swansea City, in what had been his worst performance of the season. Marcelo Bielsa, in explaining the decision, had said that Phillips had been taken off because of the risk of a red card.
Ten clearances, four blocked shots, three tackles and three interceptions - the huge defensive effort which which saw Kalvin Phillips banish an off night at Swansea:https://t.co/YlKEDgUW6r— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) August 27, 2018
Despite the poor performance in the midweek fixture, Phillips was once again started in the midfield against Norwich, and he repaid his manager’s faith in him by turning in a peach of a performance. Leeds ran the midfield against Norwich, and Phillips was a key part of the dominance.
Phillips’ weakness in a Leeds shirt up till this point in his career has been his inconsistency. If Bielsa can get Phillips to show up and play like he did against Norwich or Derby County every week, Leeds will have one of the best young central midfielders in the Championship, if not England.
2. Pontus Jansson is back
After not appearing in the matchday 18 against Swansea City because of a back injury, the question on everyone’s mind going into the Norwich game was the health of Jansson. With Liam Cooper out for a few weeks with a hamstring problem and Jansson still not up to pace, Leeds were forced into using Luke Ayling, who has been brilliant at right back this season, as a central defender along with Gaetano Beradi, who is normally thought of as a fullback.
Pontus Jansson vs. Norwich City:— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) August 26, 2018
87% pass acc.
4 headed clearances
4 ball recoveries
3 tackles won
Back to his best. Solid throughout and made crucial interventions. Organiser at the back and excellent on the ball. pic.twitter.com/qZzbWq1Gmg
However, it looked as if those fears were put at rest with his performance against Norwich. Jansson was at full stretch in the first half a couple times to deny them going forward when it looked as if Norwich might be able to start the match on the good foot, putting some early pressure on Leeds before the Whites turned the screws and left the Canaries in their dust.
3. Pablo Hernandez can still bring it
We all know how special Hernandez is, and it appears that Bielsa is becoming a fan of him as well. Bielsa had nothign but good things to say about the veteran, who seems to have shift out wide this season to play full-time on the wing.
“I saw this very few times during my career. He’s a complete player from every point of view.” Marcelo Bielsa lauds Pablo Hernandez after the Spaniard’s performance at Norwich:https://t.co/A0Zt0DWuef— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) August 26, 2018
Bielsa went on to say that Hernandez is a “complete” footballer, one who works hard to make his teammates better. It must be a luxury to have someone with the experience that Hernandez has on the pitch for Leeds. It’s almost as if Leeds have an additional assistant coach on the pitch with the team, such is the experience that Hernandez brings to the team every time he steps onto the pitch.
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