We went into this game on the back of a solid run without losing in six games to big teams. However, with the loss of two key players, a secure mid table place we were probably not as prepared or as hungry as Brighton who were looking to secure their place in the premier league for next season.
Brighton started the more earnestly with close link up pl Maupay and Welbeck up front causing a lot of pressure fro the Leeds defence. Strong early pressure from Brighton forcing Meslier to be on full guard with some shots on target. Lots of shots in the first twelve minutes and Leeds yet to.
The improving Leeds defence can only benefit from the return of Koch who stands in for Phillips – this is a pivotal role for Leeds’ defence. Leeds have a worrying stat of losing games without Phillips on the pitch. Rodrigo on the bench who will hopefully get some game time today.
Leeds were missing Raphinha with his corner taking responsibilities. Meslier correctly goes to his right but the shot by Gross was just to far into the corner. Brightons first goal in over six hours comes from a penalty.
Then Alioski gives a penalty by wrapping his body around Wellbeck’s leg. It has that sinking problem after Leeds lost to Brighton earlier in the season. Alioski is a better player going forward than backwards.
Llorente on twenty minutes has a moment, with a shot on goal sensing the goalie off his line. Alas the shot was way off. But that was the problem – Leeds were being defended out of the game with Bamford not getting sight of the ball. Finally on 21 minutes Harrison has Leeds’ first shot on target. As much as Leeds dominated position to 30 minutes (60%) and corners (4-0) they struggled against the big Brighton defence. If Leeds lose then that would be the 8th defeat out of 9 against Brighton.
It was a good reply from Leeds after the goal stopping Brighton from having any more shots on goal, with Leeds having five. Not being shy of being obvious Leeds tried the same corner trick with a short pass then angled short into the box twice in two minutes. Good idea but no cigar.
A rare example of the early season dreadful defending by Leeds on 40 minutes with an appalling attempt to pass out of the penalty box with Trossar thankfully skying the ball. A minute later Brighton have another big chance with Wellbeck shooting close to goal.
The first half ended with Leeds lacking enough creativity to score – too much reliance on balls high into the box that Brighton well defended, and a lot of play in the final third going astray.
Bielsa’s tactical move for the second half is to bring on Poveda for Alioski. This should give more penetration into the Brighton penalty box. Brighton start the second half like the first half on full throttle; after ten minutes Leeds had soaked up the pressure.
Brighton did their job on cutting Bamford out of the game and he is inevitably sacrificed for Rodrigo who plays as an advanced midfielder. Leeds need Poveda’s dribbling runs to Rodrigo to shoot but after 25 minutes into the second half had had only one shot on target.
A dull afternoon is capped off with more defensive errors following a poor clearance by Struijk leading to a Welbeck goal. Meslier busier than usual today but made some important saves to keep the deficit to two.
Overall, we didn’t turn up today – not clinical, not keeping possession, missing key players in Raphinha and Phillips, Poveda and Rodrigo not having the impact we needed in the second. After some big games we came into this with Brighton wanting the three points more. And we do seem to have a jinx with Brighton.
Man of the match: Meslier