Talking Points - Leeds United and the Championship play-offs run-in

BEST WINGER? But even Alfonso Pedraza has been inconsistent thus far.
BEST WINGER? But even Alfonso Pedraza has been inconsistent thus far.
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AFTER seeing Leeds United frustratingly held to a goalless draw by Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road, the YEP’s Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points ahead of the regular season’s final nine games.

Let us know below whether you agree with Lee, or offer up some thoughts of your own as we prepare for the promotion run-in starting with the visit of Brighton on Saturday.

Should Leeds change their formation at home?

United still boast a fantastic record at home this season with eight wins, one draw and just one loss from their last ten games. But the Whites have savoured victory in only two of their last four fixtures at LS11 and those successes came against naturally-attacking Bristol City and Sheffield Wednesday sides who seemed intent on attacking Leeds from the start and were not surprisingly beaten as a result.

Unfortunately, teams are now starting to realise that sitting back and hitting United on the counter can be the key to success at Elland Road, a tactic deployed by both Cardiff and QPR, and United have been short on ideas and options on both occasions.

To muster not a single shot on target is not good enough and there have been plenty of calls for United to abandon the system of using two defensive midfielders in front of their back four. It’s a fair shout, because if teams are not pushing forward against United at Elland Road then is there really a need for two defensive options in midfield, as in Ronaldo Vieira and captain Liam Bridcutt against QPR?

To muster not a single shot on target is not good enough and there have been plenty of calls for United to abandon the system of using two defensive midfielders in front of their back four.

YEP football writer, Lee Sobot

United are too reliant on Pablo Hernandez creating openings in the no 10 position at present and the Spaniard again offered very little at the weekend. Kemar Roofe might be worth giving another outing at no 10 but moreover United’s midfield formation might just need altering overall against teams like Cardiff and QPR.

Putting just one defensive midfielder in front of the back four would allow United to either put another attacking midfielder next to Hernandez or moreover play two upfront. The only irony is that United’s next visitors to Elland Road, second-placed Brighton, are unlikely to adopt the same strategy as Cardiff and QPR.

Who are United’s two best wingers?

It’s strange because despite having enjoyed a fantastic season, Whites head coach Garry Monk must still probably have some serious doubt what his best midfield five is. And who should start out wide is definitely open to debate.

Roofe and Alfonso Pedraza were given the nod against QPR but neither excelled though Hadi Sacko and Souleymane Doukara didn’t do much better - if at all - once introduced. Stuart Dallas and Mo Barrow are other options but Dallas stayed on the bench on Saturday while Barrow failed to even make the 18.

There’s nothing wrong with rotating and Monk will be pleased to have options but not one winger can be considered a definite starter at present, not ideal when Leeds are short on creativity.

How is it best to deal with Pontus Jansson’s disciplinary tight-rope?

The answer will probably be to let fate take its course but that strategy has now led to Luke Ayling serving a two-match ban that could have been avoided. The last thing Leeds and Monk need is losing Jansson to a three-game ban for the play-offs, which is entirely possible.

The Swede is on 13 yellow cards and another two at any point between now and the end of the season would land the 26-year-old a three match ban - that would also apply to the play-offs.

United have nine games remaining and a ban looks unavoidable for Jansson who, in an ideal world, would pick up the bookings well before the end of the campaign. Better still, don’t get booked at all but the chances of avoiding two yellow cards in the next nine games are slim.

Kyle Bartley

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