Leeds United: Five things we learned from the goalless draw at The Valley

Leeds 'United's Alex Mowatt fires just over the bar at Charlton. Picture: Tony Johnson

Leeds 'United's Alex Mowatt fires just over the bar at Charlton. Picture: Tony Johnson

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Leeds United were held to a 0-0 draw by Charlton on Saturday, although they would have felt unlucky not to earn all three points.

Here are five things we learned from the game:

Stuart Dallas ranks among the division’s better summer buys

There was frustration among Brentford fans when Stuart Dallas joined Leeds this summer, not least because many felt he was undervalued. At over £1m, it seems a bit incredible to think Dallas could represent a bargain for Leeds, but that might yet be the case. He was one of the best players on the pitch on Saturday, dominating the play and creating chance after chance down the right. Even during the difficult first-half he fashioned a handful of opportunities. It was not only going forward that Dallas impressed, as the Northern Ireland international provided an incredible level of defensive cover. He has shown enough in the months he has played for Leeds to suggest he ranks among the club’s better players, and could end up an important player over his time at Elland Road.

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The formation of 4-3-3 or 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1: whatever you call it, it works

People often get hung up over formations, but Leeds have benefited hugely from an additional body in the centre of midfield over the last two games. It is a reversion to what Leeds were playing under Uwe Rosler, but with a couple of key differences. Firstly, the wingers and central midfielders are given more of an opportunity to support Chris Wood, which means the striker no longer seems as isolated as he did under Rosler. Secondly, the energy and drive of Tom Adeyemi is used for an attacking benefit. He is not suited to sit, but popped up repeatedly in Charlton’s box to cause chaos. Having him as a player able to break gives Leeds much more than they did when Luke Murphy was playing in a similar role.

Leeds’ defence is still prone to an error

It was only a solitary moment, but Johnnie Jackson should have scored when Marco Silvestri turned his effort around the post. In part, that opportunity was caused by Leeds’ failure to clear a trickling ball across the penalty area. The Whites dominated the game, although there we always a sense that it would only take one slip from the defence to hand Charlton all three points. Sol Bamba’s potential return at Wolves can only be a plus.

Lewis Cook is brilliant when he controls the game

Steve Evans spoke post-match about what he told his midfielders at half-time, about how they should ‘caress’ the ball and treat it like a newborn baby. Lewis Cook, years off parenthood, took the message to heart. He was the heartbeat of the team as it dominated the second period, never far from the ball and always on the end of it when crosses came into the box. It feels like a point that has been repeated throughout this campaign, but if Cook is on form so are Leeds. He is only 18, which is a caveat with which any questions over displays have to be regarded. Given a year or two, there is a potentially brilliant player in the academy graduate. It is now to be seen whether that will be at Leeds.

Charlie Taylor is a medical marvel

As those who have suffered glandular fever will tell you, the disease can knock you out for a year, render you unable to walk about, never mind play professional football. It is exceptional that Charlie Taylor has returned to the game without looking like he is suffering from any rustiness or ill-effects. Taylor was his characteristically solid self on Saturday, never looking particularly likely to get caught out. At 22, Taylor seems to have locked down the left-back position as his own.

PLENTY TO PONDER: For Leeds United head coach Garry Monk.

Leeds United: Points to ponder in Garry Monk’s ‘in tray’