YEP jury: Sunderland victory confirms Leeds United as promotion contenders

Samuel Saiz and Caleb Ekuban scamble for possession.
Samuel Saiz and Caleb Ekuban scamble for possession.
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Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s 2-0 victory at Sunderland and Chris Wood’s decision to join Burnley.

DAVID WATKINS

Vurnon Anita gets past Aidan McGeady.

Vurnon Anita gets past Aidan McGeady.

What should have been another really tough test became a comfortable win for the Whites once Samuel Saiz put Leeds ahead in the 21st minute at the Stadium of Light.

From that point onwards Leeds’ high pressing game and ceaseless running and movement left Sunderland looking a very average side despite the good form they had shown in their first three games in the Championship.

This victory confirms Leeds as an early contender for promotion to the Premier League and will have caused many a Championship boss to sit up and take note.

The loss of Chris Wood and then his replacement, Caleb Ekuban, through injury, made little difference to our fluidity and if anything the attacking options looked far more varied. We do need a replacement for Wood but it somehow looks less critical than it did before kick-off.

Every Leeds man played their part but for me the man of the match had to be Saiz; he just makes things happen.

Man of the match: Samuel Saiz.

MATTHEW EVANS

United’s first goals in three games took the form of two excellent finishes. One by Samuel Saiz with his feet and another from Stuart Dallas’ head and ensured that we came away from Sunderland with three points despite Chris Wood’s absence.

The bemusement felt at a second player in quick succession refusing to play for Leeds in favour of a move to Burnley was soothed by a professional display where United always looked comfortable in defence and threatening in attack.

The entire back five was superb and Felix Wiedwald will be revelling in a hat-trick of clean sheets. Kalvin Phillips was excellent in contrast to a poor outing in midweek and Ezgjan Alioski was at the heart of all our best moves. The United faithful were in good voice and enjoyed the perfect away day of a goal in each half, clean sheet and home crowd leaving early, in silence, with heads bowed.

United have some work to do to replace Wood, especially after Ekuban limped off on Saturday, but things are looking promising for the squad with or without the big man.

Man of the match: Ezgjan Alioski.

KEITH INGHAM

Well what a day that was! Firstly we find out our talismanic striker is going to be sold and then says it’s better if he doesn’t play in this game, and in response Leeds beat Sunderland 2-0 at The Stadium of Light.

Football is a strange game, stranger by season. Average players going for silly money and players clearly not respecting the clubs they play for.

That is something I find hard to stomach, it’s a short career but for goodness sake don’t the fans deserve a little respect by the players they pay huge sums to watch?

I didn’t expect a Leeds win but goals from the excellent Samuel Saiz and substitute Stuart Dallas were enough to beat a pretty poor Sunderland team. Substitute Dallas ended any thoughts of a Sunderland comeback.

It certainly hurt that Chris Wood decided he wanted to leave the club but if a good striker is brought in to replace him I’m pretty sure he will be forgotten, I’m just extremely annoyed and upset by the way he chose to say goodbye.

Man of the match: All the players.

MIKE GILL

It became clear on Friday night that Chris Wood was on his way, when the club let slip that they had offered him an improved deal. Like all things lately, his imminent departure has been handled professionally and the damage has been limited.

Thankfully Saturday was not about Wood.

An energetic and creative Leeds United side controlled the game for all but about 10 minutes.

Strong in defence, mobile and threatening, they ran the show.

Samuel Saiz opened the scoring with a shot which was similar to his first against Port Vale. He seems to be developing a great partnership with Gianni Alioski, who ran Sunderland ragged in the first half.

It was Alioski and Saiz who combined again on 72 minutes to provide Stuart Dallas with well taken header at the far post which brought back memories of Gary Speed.

Finally, I must say a word about Thomas Christiansen. As a coach and as a human being he is pure class.

Man of the match: All the players.

GARY NEWBOULD

The Whites secured a thoroughly deserved three points at The Stadium of Light after an afternoon of turmoil involving the imminent departure of Chris Wood.

Caleb Ekuban made his league debut replacing the Burnley bound striker and it was a tough opening for United, however resolute defending from Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper kept the Mackams at bay.

Midway through the first half , fine interplay between Ezgjan Alioski and Samuel Saiz saw the Spaniard deliver a fine finish to put the Whites ahead. A period of dominance by the visitors followed but United remained just a goal to the good as the half-time break arrived.

The second half began with the home side pressing for an equaliser however Jansson and Copper held firm with Luke Ayling once again looking a class act. The storm was soon abated and the points were secured with just under 15 minutes to go when Saiz put in a fine cross which Stuart Dallas despatched into the net with a fine header.

A significant result despite trying circumstances.

Man of the match: Samuel Saiz.

Gjanni Alioski celebrates scoring Leeds United's second goal against Middlesbrough.

Leeds United 2 Middlesbrough 1: Our season’s alive and kicking declares Christiansen