Is a packed Elland Road on a wet tuesday night where the dream restarts? After the disappointing performance last saturday on the south coast tonight at home is big moment for Leeds. Phillips and Raphinha the key men not firing on all cylinders – a team not finding its mojo like it had at the end of last season. This match will be ultimately won by fine margins.
Struijk earns a start after his competent second half performance against Southampton. Francis, largely absent on Saturday is moved sideways for Tyler Roberts who looked dangerous on Saturday.
Another factor pushing for a win today is that the December match programme for Leeds is a list of on form champion contenders that will test Leeds in terms of getting points.
Phillips is starting after his injury scare half way through the Southampton match. Firpo and Rodrigo, not clicking, are both dropped.
Leeds start much more brightly – winning tackles, holding possession, and creating chances. Palace reduced to counter attacks. The tactic of man to man marking will lead to gaps that Palace may create.
Leeds are relying on long crosses rather than through midfield which are getting lost to Palace players. When they play down the side it work with Struiijk’s pass to James pinpoint. But then Leeds problems are shown when his cut to Roberts to shoot is off target.
Another frustrating first half with Leeds not finishing off promising moves ending up only with yellow cards to show for it. Leeds edged it on possession and shots on goal but neither side had one on target.
Mixing up the second half
As At Southampton Bielsa is not happy with Leeds’s performance and makes changes at half time. Struijk is clearly injired and Firpo makes a return that will make fans nervous. Rodrigo is on for Klich and has some work to do to convince fans he is a game changer. Another change is Rodrigo and Roberts mixing it up as striker.
Two minutes on the pitch and Firpo has already collected a yellow card. That is another mark against him as a ready to play. Why not have Cresswell over Firpo?
Finally after 50 minutes Leeds begin to put moves together with Raphinha crossing to James who slides a pass to Rodrigo who almost connected to it. Leeds finally start to attack more with Forshaw having a shot on target.
Magic moment when Leeds forwards hassle Palace defenders and Forshaw has a (weak) shot on goal. Fans loving the aggression. Introduction of Benteke for Palace swings the momentum their way and Leeds are lucky when his header is poor.
Benteke nearly won it for Palance after a Rodrigo sloppiness in possession led to a one on one for Benteke which beat Meslier only for him to turn around and grab the ball before it went over the line. Fine margins.
James had a great game on the left and Firpo improved passing up to him. Raphinha also sent crosses over to him but was not himself that busy getting forward. Unlike the referee who gave too many yellow cards for inocuous fouls.
An obvious hand ball in the box led to a huge plea from Leeds players and eventually the referee went to his telly and came back to the pitch signalling a penalty. No disputing the raised arm blocking Cooper’s header on goal.
The penalty was pure theatre. After Palace players gave the keeper a hug Raphinha ran up to the penalty , stalled and then gave the ball a huge kick to the right. The keeper judged right but the ball was just far enough and just fast enough to beat him. The crowd erupted, Raphinha did his elaborate celebration gig, and the referee added a couple more minutes on to the additional five, just in time for Forshaw to join his team mates with yet another yellow card and another nervous free kick into the Leeds penalty box.
These three points for Leeds are priceless as we enter the December period with some tough games.
Man of the match: Dan James