Leeds went into this match with Southampton on the back of two defeats. I felt a win was needed to stave off any sense of Leeds going into decline mid way through the season. Southampton had pulled of an excellent draw with Chelsea but have been without a win for a few games now so both teams had a point to prove – three in fact.
It was mild relief to Llorente return and restore some strength into the defence, and was a sensible choice as cover for the still missing Phillips. So only one player has returned from sickness. Roberts gets thumbs up for another start, that’s it, Bielsa rarely changes his first team by choice.
The first thing that comes to attention is the appalling state of the pitch. Tottenham really did sell Leeds a dud. It may only be a temporary fix but it is already cut and players from both teams were constantly slipping. It is probably going to worsen over the next two months turning football more into roulette.
Southampton took the game to Leeds in the first and pressed high making it difficult for defenders to get out of our own half. Leeds were lucky not to concede a goal. When Llorente had a penalty claim made against him and turned down it was a nervous few minutes as VAR went through the motions.
Leeds’ style of play has changed from its cavalier approach at the beginning of the season with domination of the ball and a high number of shots on goal. With too many goals conceded Leeds are now more cautious and more focused on counter attack than possession. But Southampton finished the first half the stronger team with Meslier again keeping Leeds in the match.
Most of the action came in the second half as Leeds changed tactics and moved the ball quicker out of our half. Harrison again was substituted, somehow missing his mojo. Subs Alioski, Costa and Henandez all contributed to Leeds returning to form and attacking the Southampton goal more.
Bamford showed his class with a superlative goal across defender and goalie after a superbly weighted pass from Roberts, to put Leeds ahead. Southampton continued to attack the Leeds goal matching them for attempted shots, that kept them in it. Another counter attack and another superbly placed shot into the corner from Dallas was met by a disallowed goal from Southampton when they took a free kick before the referee blew his whistle. Decisions simply were not going Southampton’s way tonight.
Raphinha continues to grow into the team and English football running his legs off, taking corners and free kicks and getting stuck into attack moves. To cap off an evening where Southampton matched Leeds for most of the night but did not convert their shots into goals was a free kick by Raphina through the Southampton wall into the corner of the net. By the end of the match Leeds killer instinct was in full flow with more shots on goal.
Man of the match: Raphinha