Leeds have had a terrific season there can be no doubt. It has been the most enjoyable season to watch the team play since the Champions League side for me, and there are many who would argue the football under Bielsa has been as/more enjoyable than David O’Leary’s swashbuckling side (albeit at a different level of the game).
I will split this over a few articles, first one having the fewest players - The Goalkeepers.
The goalkeepers have been an area of much debate this season with neither Bailey Peacock-Farrell or Kiko Casilla managing to inspire confidence among the fanbase at large.
For the goalkeepers I will be using more stats than I will for other positions. These stats come from the excellent Chris Taylor (@LUFCDATA) who you should all follow on twitter immediately.
First choice from the opening day of the season until the arrival of Casilla from Real Madrid. His performances caused a lot of debate as, despite Leeds’ excellent record, he showed a fair amount of weakness against shots from distance and didn’t cover himself in glory when dealing with crosses.
He was much better at making saves from closer range - suggesting he is a better keeper when he is acting on instincts and reactions than when he has time to think about things. This could also explain some of his decision making on crosses.
In the League, BPF conceded 30 goals in 28 games which averages out to 1.07 goals conceded per 90 minutes. In his time in the side the average xG against Leeds United was 1.02 per 90 minutes. This shows BPF conceded fractionally more than you would expect given the chances the opposition had (which would have been 28.5 goals in his 28 matches) but this is only a small discrepancy.
BPF should not only be in the young player of the season category, he should win it. Yes he's had some dodgy moments, but which young player hasn't? Contributed more points than anyone else in the list. #lufc— The Scratching Shed (@TSSLUFC) April 5, 2019
He kept 10 clean sheets in 28 matches which is a good record but the quality of some of our defensive displays in the first half of the season does have to be factored in somewhat. For example Felix Wiedwald kept 12 clean sheets in 28 matches in the 2017/18 season including a run of six in a row despite being, for lack of a better term, useless.
He showed some real improvement with the ball at his feet as he got used to playing in Marcelo Bielsa’s system but is probably never going to be the most comfortable with this part of the game, which I would assume was Bielsa’s main reason for wanting a replacement for BPF in January.
In regards to his distribution, BPF averaged 19.61 accurate passes per 90mins, of which 4.14 were “long passes”. His passing accuracy overall was 67%.
Away from the statistics - my “eye-test” opinion on BPF is that he is a decent keeper in the Championship but not someone who is going to regularly get a team out of jail when they are struggling. I feel he will do about as well as the team he is in - and over this season that means he did well for the most part, but had a few moments of sloppiness that cost crucial points.
Season highlight: 89th minute penalty save from Marc McNulty low to his right to preserve Leeds 1-0 win over Reading FC.
Season Lowlight: Terrible performance in the 2-1 home defeat by Birmingham City. Neither goal from Che Adams was struck particularly well and he had lots of time to react on both occasions. To have them both go in was a really poor showing from the Northern Ireland keeper.
Overall Rating for the season: 6.5/10
Came in with a lot of hype from Real Madrid and signed a four-and-a-half year deal with the club. That he is already being linked with moves away from the club should probably speak volumes.
Conceded 22 goals in 19 matches at an average of 1.16 per 90 minutes which is higher than BPF’s average. However it has to be stated that Leeds generally didn’t defend as well all over the pitch at some times with Casilla in goal which may have affected these averages.
You could also argue that some of this drop off in defensive performance could have been caused by Casilla himself, some of the errors were caused by his tendency to come rushing off his line and that was something which really cost Leeds in the run-in at the end of the season. This despite Leeds’ defenders looking calmer with him in the side for the first few games after his arrival.
There also appears to be too many occasions when he is too far off his line when facing shots, Neal Maupay’s goal for Brentford against Leeds at Griffin Park being one that sticks out in my mind.
The main area of concern which is harder to explain away is the difference between the xG against Leeds United with Casilla in goal - and the actual number of goals conceded.
While BPF’s xG against per 90 (1.02) and actual goals conceded per 90 (1.07) were pretty close - Casilla’s xGa was only 0.82 and he conceded 1.16 per 90mins.
So while BPF conceded 1.42 goals more than expected over 28 matches - Casilla conceded 8.06 more than expected over 19 matches. He also picked up 2 yellow cards and a red card over these matches compared to just one yellow for BPF.
The main criticisms of BPF were his ability to deal with long shots and crosses. These have unfortunately been issues for Kiko as well. His numbers for saving long shots are better than those for BPF but his numbers for dealing with crosses are worse. BPF’s crosses not claimed with per 90mins is 0.07, for Casilla this number is 0.29. These numbers do coincide with a large number of Leeds’ full-back options being injured though which could lead to both a higher number of crosses and better crossing opportunities so we cannot purely put it on Casilla’s head.
His distribution was an improvement on BPF as was expected (despite putting a few too many in the stand - and not in a “put it in row Z” manner), averaging 2.4 more passes per 90mins and 0.34 more accurate long passes per game when compared to BPF.
For the “eye-test” I think Casilla is a better goalkeeper than BPF, but I do not think he has had a better season than BPF this year. I like the idea of Kiko Casilla more than what I have seen in execution but I still think he is a good goalkeeper, particularly by the standards of the Championship. If he was to leave I think Leeds would go for a new goalkeeper as Bielsa does not think BPF is up to the task by the looks of it. It is also hard not to judge Casilla more harshly than others due to the absolute horrorshow he put in against Derby County in the Playoff Semi-Final 2nd Leg. I also think he leaves too much space at his near post on free-kicks which good players will take advantage of.
Season Lowlight: The play-off Semi Final at Elland Road against Derby. Without his horrorshow Leeds go to Wembley, no doubt in my mind. Looked shot of confidence afterwards.
First season wobbles or reasons for serious concern? Either way, these are an alarming set of numbers for Kiko Casilla. Few excuses for a goalkeeper of his experience to be outperformed like this. Then add on the high profile errors and hefty wage packet at Elland Road. #LUFC https://t.co/Q4M6XVj2yX— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) May 28, 2019
Overall Rating for the season: 5/10
Will Huffer: Made his senior debut and kept a clean sheet in the 2-0 against Bristol City at home. Played well in the u23s and had 4 appearances for National League Barnet, including a creditable 3-3 FA Cup draw with Championship side Brentford. Ends up with a higher rating for the season than the two senior keepers above because he did more than expected from him.
Overall Rating for the season: 7/10
Jamal Blackman: Only able to play a couple of Carabao Cup matches before breaking his leg in an under-23 match against Birmingham City. Played ok in the 2-1 win over Bolton despite a couple of errors and was poor in the 2-0 defeat against Preston North End in the next round. Marcelo Bielsa said he was going to replace BPF with Blackman before his unfortunate leg break sent him back to Parent Club Chelsea.
That Blackman injury was an underrated disaster of 2018 #lufc— Rohan Elliot (@rohan_elliot) January 1, 2019
Overall Rating for the season: 5/10
Pontus Jansson: What? Did he or did he not play in goal for Leeds United’s first team this season? Had 4/5mins as a GK following Casilla’s red card against Sheffield United. Didn’t concede.
Overall Rating for the season (as a Goalkeeper): 5/10
No senior appearances for Kamil Miazek, Harrison Male, or Joshua Rae.
Miazek had a good season in the u23s including a fantastic performance in the u23 PDL National play-off final which saw Leeds win the National Title in a penalty shoot-out.
"Kamil Miazek is a hero" - wykrzykiwał komentator LUTV po finale PDL. 22-letni bramkarz był kluczowym zawodnikiem Leeds w meczu z Birmingham City. Zachował czyste konto oraz obronił 2 rzuty karne. @kamil_miazek w sezonie 19/20 nadal będzie zawodnikiem #LUFC. Super występ Polaka. pic.twitter.com/3cBToEaZ8t— SkauciUK - polski futbol na Wyspach (@SkauciUK) May 6, 2019
Harrison Male made a few errors but also looked very comfortable with the ball at his feet which bodes well if Leeds are to continue this playing style for a long time (here’s hoping), both Male and Miazek have signed new one-year deals at Leeds.
Joshua Rae has now been released but played a big part in the u23s win against Fulham in the cup, coming on after Harrison Male was sent off and going on to make a big penalty save.