Leeds played two matches in quick succession after the international break, and are still undefeated and top of the table. Leeds drew away at Millwall and beat Preston North End 3-0 at Elland Road. Here are a look at six “winners,” people or things that did well after the two games, and three “losers,” people (or concepts, competitions, etc.) that didn’t look so great after the two matches.
Some cracking performances tonight for Leeds but thought Jack Harrison was phenomenal. Tyler Roberts an obvious one too with two lovely goals and Pontus is making it difficult for Berra to slot straight back in. On we go. #lufc— Joe Urquhart (@JoeUrquhartYEP) September 18, 2018
Harrison had only come off the bench and in the League Cup for Leeds since his arrival from Manchester City on loan, and while he had looked decent, he hadn’t really turned any heads. However, he scored his first Leeds goal against Millwalll and then had a dominant performance against Preston. When Pablo Hernandez is fit again, Gjanni Alioski might find the starting XI difficult stay in.
The young striker, who made his senior Wales debut over the international break, showed what all of the fuss surrounding his transfer was about. He had about four good chances away at Millwall, and against Preston, he scored a pair of great goals. He’s the third choice striker for Leeds, and he just tore into Preston.
There were a number of people questioning the lack of depth at Leeds with all the injuries, given that Leeds sold, released, or sent on loan about 20 or so players between the first team and the U23s this past summer. However, even with the limited number of players that came into the team, the team easily overcame the injuries to key players. Maybe we shouldn’t have been so quick to doubt Bielsa, eh?
Even in the period where Preston got a sniff, Leeds gave them very little. Jansson has been immense this evening. Back to the sort of unplayable football we saw at Norwich. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) September 18, 2018
Jansson had been second choice to Gaetano Berardi up to this point in the season, but the Sweden international reminded everyone just how good he can be when he’s on top of his form as he was against Preston. If there had been one area that Leeds were vulnerable up until this point in the season, it was in the air. Leeds didn’t have the aerial threat to deal with teams like Middlesbrough, but the return of Jansson shows that when he’s playing, Leeds don’t really have to worry about defending free-kicks and corner-kicks as much as was feared early in the season.
Neither Millwall nor Preston pretend to try to play like Barcelona, and there is a thought that playing tough, physical, aerial football is the way to build success in the Championship. After all, Fulham last year played attacking football and could only get to the playoffs while Cardiff City shithoused their way to promotion. However, against Millwall, and even more so against Preston, Leeds didn’t waver from their attacking style, always pressing and always looking to score. And at the end of the day, Leeds is still unbeaten in the league, Preston is still in the relegation zone, and Millwall are just a few points away from the drop zone. Turns out you can play attacking football on a wet Tuesday night in Leeds.
Bielsa talked up Liam Cooper's captaincy, saying he has humility and is more interested in his team-mates and others than himself. Draws a comparison with Oscar De Marcos at Bilbao, who Bielsa learned recently devotes his free time to visiting people in hospital. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) September 17, 2018
The Leeds captain was singled out by Bielsa for praise on his leadership abilities. He’s been in great form at the start of the season, again, and after him mentioning last season that the match at Millwall was a turning point, the team went out and got past the mental block of the match at the New Den.
The Carabao Cup
The result against Preston in the league reinforces even more just how meaningless the League Cup has become. Leeds were beaten at home by 10-man Preston, but that result looks more and more like an absolute fluke given the thrashing that Leeds put on Preston on Tuesday night. If there ever was an example of how little the Cup results matter in the long run, this is it.
Neil Harris & Steve Morison
Before the match, Morison said that he was going to “put on his Zlatan Ibrahimović shirt” and score against Leeds, just as he did at Elland Road back in January. However, he was subbed off before the end of the match and generally was a non-factor in the match.
This is odd given that Harris was fairly cordial in the post-match press conference:https://t.co/KxSxuSpVKD— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) September 17, 2018
Harris, who had appeared to be fine with Bielsa and Leeds during the post-match press conference, came out after the match, and once Bielsa and Leeds had left South London, and called the celebration a “disgrace to English football,” a rather laughable claim given the situation and the team that he manages. Harris ended up looking like he was full of sour grapes instead of turning attention away from his team’s poor form.
The former Leeds manager had everything unravel away at Millwall last season. Vurnon Anita got torched playing at fullback, and Leeds could’t deal with the physical, aerial game of Millwall. After that match, Christiansen’s teams stopped playing like they had earlier in the season and Leeds slid down the table, going on to win only three of their next ten matches. Bielsa’s team didn’t get intimidated by the atmosphere, and did well to grab a point and go home.