Leeds United Talking Points: Top of the league, clean sheet frenzy and who is invaluable

AFTER seeing Leeds United go top of the Championship with a tense victory against Birmingham City, Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from the Tuesday night clash at Elland Road.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 13th September 2017, 11:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 11:06 am
VITAL CONTRIBUTION. Leeds United's Stuart Dallas celebrates his goal with Samuel Saiz. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
VITAL CONTRIBUTION. Leeds United's Stuart Dallas celebrates his goal with Samuel Saiz. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Top - and can Leeds stay there?

“We’re Leeds United, we’re top of the league” boomed out from the Elland Road stands once Stuart Dallas had ensured victory in second half stoppage time with the Whites now one point clear of Cardiff City who were beaten 3-0 at a Preston North End side up to fifth.

But the Lilywhites are still five points behind United who have a five point-gap back to those teams outside of the play-offs and Leeds have a three-point cushion back to third-placed Sheffield United.

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Yet it could be fourth-placed Wolves that need monitoring most closely as the Molineux side - who are three points behind United - are 7-2 favourites to win the division.

Who are second favourites? Leeds. Now no bigger than 7-1 and ahead of Garry Monk’s ninth-placed Middlesbrough and Neil Warnock’s Cardiff who are both 8s.

Fulham (11s) and Derby (14s) are next.

For United, stiffer tests await and four of the five teams Leeds have beaten so far sit in the division’s bottom five but Birmingham will soon be on the rise based on their display at Elland Road and Leeds are now the only unbeaten team in the division.

And whilst there have still only been seven games played, getting as many points on the board as possible will do United’s promotion claims no harm at all.

Victory at sixth-bottom Millwall on Saturday could open up a bigger gap at the top with Cardiff facing a tough clash at home to sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday.

Either way, the automatic promotion hunt is most definitely on.

Nine hours without conceding in the league

The fact that Leeds moved top of the Championship on Tuesday evening took top billing but keeping six Championship clean sheets in succession is a superb achievement in itself.

United have now not conceded a league goal for approaching ten hours as there have 563 minutes of Championship football since Gary Madine’s second half penalty in the opening day win at Bolton.

An incredible stat and Pontus Jansson will be running out of brick wall GIFS to post on social media.

If Leeds keep out Millwall for the first 37 minutes at the Den on Saturday they will have gone ten hours without conceding a league goal.

Invaluable Dallas

Northern Ireland international Stuart Dallas was linked with a move to Norwich City during the summer transfer window with the 26-year-old failing to hold down a place in United’s starting line-up and out of contract at the end of the year.

But Leeds held firm and Dallas subsequently signed a new three-year deal with the Whites shortly after.

Tuesday night’s contribution showed why as despite sitting on the bench for 80 minutes, Dallas came on to settle the game with a superb second goal in the second minute of injury time.

A player very important to United’s success.

Battle for the wing slots

Dallas would ordinarily deserve to start but the same can be said of Pablo Hernandez, Gjanni Alioski and Kemar Roofe who found himself demoted to the bench despite a string of particularly impressive recent displays.

Whites head coach Thomas Christiansen has competition for places in every area but the battles to take the two wide slots are particularly fierce.

Alioski and Hernandez were given the nod against Birmingham but Alioski failed to really reach the same heights achieved in the win against Forest and Christiansen might well be tempted to change things again at Millwall.

Six goals for Saiz

United’s reliance on Chris Wood last season was well documented with Souleymane Doukara, Pablo Hernandez and even on loan centre-back Kyle Bartley finishing as the club’s joint-second top scorers with six goals.

Seven games into the new season, Samu Saiz has already reached that level after another stellar display against Birmingham and the Spaniard will surely soon be in double figures.

Roofe also already sits on five goals and new on loan Hamburg striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga is already up and running after his debut brace against Burton.

Lasogga again went close to adding to his tally against Birmingham but with nine Leeds players having already netted for United this season there is now far less pressure on United’s new 9 than was the case on Wood.