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Finally in March some important players back from injury with Kalvin Phillips back in the tea,. Poveda, Dorigo and Beradi are back on the subs bench. Hopefully Koch is not far off his return. Struijk is still injured from Aston Villa match. The London jinx is a serious block on Leeds’ progress with so many London teams in the Premier League this season.
Both teams have had nine days’ break. This is the 100th meeting between the two cubs and Leeds’ first visit to West Ham’s London stadium. Declan Rice, captain for West Ham is the key player for Leeds to nullify.
Great build up with disallowed goal for Helder Costa for the finest of margins that only a microscope could see on the VAR. And then in a matter of a couple of minutes Raphinha cut back when the ball had clearly passed the by line with a tidy finish by Bamford. Within eight minutes Leeds could have been two goals to the good.
After an impressive first 20 minutes with two disallowed goals and most of the possession Ayling stupidly trips up Lingard and Leeds give away a penalty. Meslier expertly stops the ball but no Leeds player is there to kick it away. More work to do. Then the next foul is by Cooper just outside the penalty box. Our defence is being tested. Roberts took up an interesting position on the knee behind the Leeds wall. Then from the corner Leeds concede a goal yet again to a set piece, this time Llorente loses his man. Bielsa needs to do something about this. West Ham nearly killed off the game with another corner set piece hitting the post. A dismal end to the first half.
Costa and Klich take the hit for the poor performance with Harrison and Alioski brought onto do more as wide players. Immediately Llorente made a superb shot through the West Ham defence giving Bamford an easy left footer which he flicks wide. We needed that goal. Then a Raphinha bicycle click with a deflection needs the goalkeeper to keep out. Within six minutes of the restart there is another shot, this time from West Ham hitting the cross bar. It felt like another goal was going to be inevitable from either team.
On the hour Bamford has a shot way off target despite a flood of Leeds players arriving in the penalty box. It was a welcome return to see Rodrigo come on for Roberts. The attacks kept coming with a blistering strike by Raphinha that the keeper pushed away.
It was much more like the Leeds that fight in the second half with West Ham reduced to the occasional counter attack. It is just a joy to watch Raphinha on the ball, clever swivels and caresses of the ball combined with a taunting attitude to defenders to come and get the ball if they dare. We lost this match because Bamford had two clear chances to score tonight that he squandered. I felt Bielsa’s exasperation tonight: four defeats in five matches. Another attempt kicked off the line showed it was not our night.
Man of the Match: Raphinha