AFTER seeing Leeds United record their fourth-straight victory at the weekend, Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points arising from the 1-0 defeat of Ipswich Town at Elland Road.
Chris Wood is thriving and the league’s joint-third top scorer
Six weeks ago, Wood was receiving hammer from sections of the Elland Road crowd as his 60th-minute substitution against Birmingham City was greeted by jeers and cheers. Nine games later, the Kiwi has bagged four goals from his last four games and already has seven in league and cup from 11 games. His Championship tally of five so far also puts him joint-third in the league scoring charts with Brighton’s Glenn Murray, behind Bristol City’s Tammy Abraham, with eight, and Brentford’s Scott Hogan, with six. Wood is growing in confidence each week and gave the Ipswich defence a torrid time throughout. He was unlucky not to have a hat-trick having also thumped the post from range and brought about a good save from Bartosz Bialkowski with his legs. Wood was odds-on - 5-6 - with Leeds bookmaking firm Sky Bet to net 20 league goals or more before Saturday’s clash with Ipswich. He’ll be even shorter now and 20 looks inevitable should he stay in form and injury free.
Composure will make Hadi Sacko an even better player
Right-winger Sacko was the first Whites player subbed by head coach Garry Monk and the 22-year-old was given a huge applause for his efforts when coming off for Kemar Rofe with 13 minutes left. The Frenchman was lively throughout and a constant threat to the Tractor Boys. But Sacko’s performance could have been even better had he capped his display with a goal and not blasted wide from point-blank range just after the hour mark. Sacko took to social media afterwards, haling a “great team victory again and a nice run of victories.” The wide man added that he “felt good despite the sitter I missed.” It was a sitter, for sure, and had Ipswich have undeservedly equalised at the death it could have cost Leeds dear. As it was, all was well that ends well and when Sacko adds more of an element of composure to his game, Leeds are going to have an even better player.
Kalvin Phillips is continuing to progress giving Leeds real options in defensive midfield
United’s plethora of midfielders is well documented but Liam Bridcutt’s signature from Sunderland was still regarded as a must, with United then adding another defensive midfield option in Eunan O’Kane from Bournemouth on transfer deadline day. That transfer seemed to shift Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira further down the pecking order. But Phillips was handed an opportunity by injuries to Bridcutt and Vieira on Saturday and took that chance with both hands. Phillips put in a fine display, potentially man of the match were it not for Wood, and it’s easy to forget that the Academy graduate has still only made 23 appearances in a Whites shirt and is just 20 years old. There was a temptation to think that the defensive midfield pecking order at Leeds went, in order, Bridcutt, O’Kane, Vieira, Phillips. That, based on Saturday’s display, might be subject to change and there’s certainly not much in it, with Phillips also keen to stress afterwards that he can play anywhere in midfield. With O’Kane also probably having his best game for Leeds on Saturday, for Whites head coach Garry Monk, the defensive midfield dilemma is a nice headache to have. It was interesting also, to see Matt Grimes brought on as an 86th-minute sub for Stuart Dallas. His prospects at Leeds looked bleak up until recently but two quick appearances from the bench of late indicate hope.