It’s business usual for Leeds United after the international break. The squad is largely unchanged with Cooper back. Alioski is the joker in the pack with much talk about him moving on in the summer as the Premier League is too demanding for him. Yet his performance against Germany for North Macedonia raised his profile. Phillips played all three England matches and goes straight back in to the team. Dallas after playing for Northern Ireland is also in defence. Poveda, Koch, Klich and Rodrigo are back on the subs bench as they build up their fitness to Bielsa’s ideal level.
Bielsa has a zero hair cut and embraced the complete bald thug look, with added glasses to have a dad element to it. Ayling however, has grown a bush on his face. Someone should have an honest conversation with him that he should stick to hair on his head not his face.
Leeds harried the Sheffield United players breaking up their every move and the results nearly paid off with Phillips up front like he did for England pick pocketing defence and having an early shot on goal.
The run up to the goal was about team effort and pace. Llorente playing high up the pitch tackled for the ball. Roberts sets up a neat pass to Raphinha whose pace left Sheffield United players backing off cuts back from the goal line for Harrison to make the easiest of tap ins to the goal he can ask for.
Leeds showed some of their early force with one counter attack involving six Leeds players taking on six Sheffield United players in the Sheffield box. Depsite dominating the first half Sheffield United put together an attack that left defenders chasing the passes and left Leeds wide open. This was Sheffield United’s first shot on target and they score.
A positive start to the second half with Roberts and Harrison working as an offensive pair with a pinpoint cross field pass that Harrison put into the corridor of uncertainty for Raphinha, with Jagielka sliding in, in front of him to score an own goal. After losing that momentum towards the end of the second half they came out in the second half creating the shots on goal.
Bamford had an ineffective game, relying on balls into the box that defenders snuffed out. Rodrigo seemed to be the right replacement on the hour. Service from Harrison was poor to Rodrigo so we didn’t see enough of him.
Leeds defence was assured without any evidence of being vulnerable to set pieces. Llorente was a rock in defence picking up so many balls coming into the box and filtering them out. Midfield with Harrison, Roberts and Raphinha surged into the Sheffield United box with over 20 shots reigning in goal, but finishing was missing for Leeds with statistics not translating in to goals. There were so many almost moments.
Man of the match: Llorente