Well, that was really impressive.
Leeds United produced a fantastic display to beat the favourites to win the league 3-1 at Elland Road. It is only the first match of the season and therefore you cannot read too much into it, but Leeds made Stoke City look very average today and it would take a Leeds fan with a heart of stone not to get a little bit excited at the football served up on a beautiful summer day at a packed Elland Road.
Leeds produced some scintillating football with pace and great off the ball movement, as well as working their bollocks off when not in possession, to send the vast majority of the 34000+ crowd home incredibly happy.
Goals from Mateusz Klich, Pablo Hernandez, and Liam Cooper gave Leeds the win and in truth Leeds could have easily had a couple more.
Bailey Peacock-Farrell - Given the nod for the first match and had a good opening performance. Conceded from a penalty but that doesn’t go against him in any way. Had one real mistake when he came for a cross and got nothing on the ball, and there were a couple of occasions when he should have come out for the ball but left it to one of the defenders. Showed excellent awareness to come off his line and head a long ball clear when Benik Afobe looked favourite to beat Berardi to the ball. Made an excellent save right at the end of the game to deny Bruno Martins Indi. His distribution was really good today, and improvement on last season if anything in that regard. 7/10
BPF has kept his hands on that No.1 shirt, been very strong today. Only disappointment is the pen cost him a clean sheet #lufc— Macca (@bigmacca199) August 5, 2018
Luke Ayling - Had a really good game up against a good winger in James McClean. Got forward well at times, even if not the level of some of his pre-season performances. Strength was in his defensive display, stayed right side of his man and made some really good tackles. Showed what Leeds were missing during his long spell on the sidelines last season. In the first half, probably gave the ball away more than anyone else in a Leeds shirt, but that wasn’t all that much. 7/10
Ayling is the best signing we have ever made in the championship..the man is class #lufc— Mark Kavanagh (@kavana25) August 5, 2018
Gaetano Berardi - Made one massive mistake in the first half by miscontrolling the ball and leaving Stoke with a 2v1 against Liam Cooper. Outside of that had a solid game. Sometimes struggled in the air against Afobe and really struggled once Peter Crouch came on but you can’t blame someone for just being far shorter than other players. Passed the ball well in some tight areas and did not look out of place in the less-familiar centre-back role. 7/10
05/08/2018..— TheSouthStandAssassin (@TSSA_LUFC) August 5, 2018
The day that a back 3 made up of a CB, CM and a RB who were Cooper, Phillips and Berardi just shit housed Afobe, Ince, McClean and Bojan.
What a time to be alive #lufc
Liam Cooper - Probably his best ever performance in a Leeds shirt. If anyone made an error it was Cooper who tidied up after them, including a fantastic interception on the aforementioned 2v1 against him. Aside from a couple of slightly misjudged passes at the end of the game he was excellent in possession. Gets a lot of criticism from Leeds fans, some deserved, some not, but today he was absolutely brilliant and repaid the faith shown in him by Marcelo Bielsa. His goal was a very well taken header from a corner and today he claims the Man Of The Match award for me. 9/10
Well well how good were #lufc today, that’s set the standard high. Hope that people get behind the team now specially captain Cooper who played a blinder.— David Hay (@Davehaymot) August 5, 2018
Barry Douglas - Gave away the penalty but that only happened because of another error. Didn’t get forward as much as we were used to seeing in his Wolverhampton Wanderers days but was effective when he did. Tom Ince was forced to move infield to have any effect on the game as he was getting no change out of Douglas. Fantastic ball in from a corner for Cooper’s goal. Good debut for him. 7.5/10
Ayling and Douglas arriving home pulling out keys, wallet, McLean and Ince #lufc— Luke Gray (@LuFcLuK3LuFc) August 5, 2018
Kalvin Phillips - Looks good in the deeper midfield role and did a good job of protecting the defence. Did well in the air when necessary and passed the ball well. Was able to move forward a little more due to Leeds only playing 2 centre-backs (which should be norm against teams who pay one up front). Was on for a higher score but made a pretty big error. Berardi had intercepted the cross and there was no real danger, unfortunately Phillips took the ball himself and turned into trouble, losing the ball and this lead to the penalty. Has to lose a bit of rating for that. 7/10
Kalvin Phillips was phenomenal in his new role, Klich was superb and Cooper proved he's more than good enough when in a stable defence #LUFC— Ben (@BenSpencer_x) August 5, 2018
Mateusz Klich - Ran the game in the first half, really good finish from him when put through by Saiz. Was a worry that Adam Forshaw would be missing but Klich stepped into the breach very well. Drove the team forward when the opportunity arose and pressured the opposition well when they had possession. Showed what we hoped we would see from him when he was signed and has definitely secured his spot as first choice while Forshaw is missing. 8/10
MoM for me today was Klich. Looked so assured and calm on ball. Cooper and Douglas looked very solid. One game down.....#lufc— Toby Gray (@toby2leeds) August 5, 2018
Samu Saiz - He’s back, and better than ever. He had the knack, for making us better.
An return to the form we saw early last season. Fantastic work to beat a couple of players and then play an excellent through ball for Klich’s goal. Showed excellent discipline to keep his poise in the first half when he didn’t get the decisions on a few clear fouls against him. Did more defensive work than we are accustomed to seeing as well. Got tired late in the game. I said in another article he could do with a goal/big performance early in the season, today we saw a big performance. 8/10
Pablo Hernandez - Found space almost at will and looked a constant threat. Got a bit of luck with the goal as it definitely should have been saved by Jack Butland. Was also very successful in the tackle which isn’t something you would associate with him. 8/10
Pablo Hernandez: "We played good but it's impossible to play good every game. But with this attitude and spirit, if one game we can't play good we still have the chance to win the game with this work and everybody running, working, helping their team mates. This is the way" #lufc— Lee Sobot (@LeeSobotYEP) August 5, 2018
Ezgjan Alioski - Got the assist on the Hernandez goal and was unlucky with a volley at goal following some excellent football. Showed great defensive discipline, particularly in the second half, when Douglas got pulled infield to drop back and do some very good covering work. His usual level of commitment but a bit more quality than we saw in the second half of last season. 7.5/10
If that Alioski volley went in first half you'd already have your goal of the season. We played some absolute filth today #lufc— Jack Waldis (@waldis17) August 5, 2018
Kemar Roofe - Lead the line well and kept a constant press on the Stoke players for the first 70 minutes. Had a couple of good chances and you would say he should probably have scored one of them. A big strength was his movement which dragged Stoke’s defence out of position creating lots of space for Saiz, Hernandez, and Alioski. Still would expect Patrick Bamford to start against Derby County but Roofe did himself no harm with this performance. 7.5/10
Stuart Dallas (For Klich, 76mins) - Put himself about well in the tackle and kept possession impressively. Could have had a goal on the break if he was a bit quicker. 6.5/10
Lewis Baker (for Saiz, 88mins) - Not on long enough to score. N/A
Jack Harrison (for Alioski, 89mins) - Not on long enough to score. N/A