FRESH from arriving back from Leeds United’s 2-1 win at Birmingham City, Lee Sobot looks at five issues highlighted by Tuesday night’s 2-1 triumph at St Andrew’s.
1, Leeds have the potential to be a decent side
It would be unwise to get carried away with one result but Birmingham sit ninth in the Championship table yet at times were blown apart by a free-flowing Leeds. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that United could have been 3-0 up at the break and Tuesday’s display shows that, when Leeds click, they can be a force to be reckoned with. Obviously the Whites need to produce performances like this on a consistent basis next year to stand any chance of going up but their St Andrew’s display proved there is definitely potential to be some way better than their current position of 15th if the club can keep its best players and add to them, and also avoid distractions off the field. They are all big ifs.
2, An in-form Stuart Dallas will be crucial to United next season
When you think of the club needing to keep its best players you automatically think of Lewis Cook and Charlie Taylor. Add to that Stuart Dallas who proved with two brilliant goals just how important he is to Leeds. Both of his strikes were unstoppable and his stock is likely to rise further this summer after representing Northern Ireland at the Euros. It’s easy to forget that Dallas is still only 24 - with potential for even better to come - and while less documented than Cook and Taylor, he is bound to have potential suitors in the summer. On this evidence, he could be just as crucial to the cause. It’s odd to think that Dallas has scored only two goals all season prior to the Birmingham clash because on this evidence many more will follow.
3, Chris Wood has showed admirable resilience
Wood came in for heavy criticism after his two glaring misses at Burnley on Saturday and rightly so as both were sitters that should have given Leeds at least a share of the spoils. It is the striker’s job to score goals after all. But while Wood missed another fairly good chance early on from Gaetano Berardi’s cross at Birmingham, his overall display was undoubtedly of a high order. His control, turn and pass to release Lewis Cook down the right flank in the first half was divine. Yes, Wood needs to score more goals but fair play to him for reacting in a positive manner to his Burnley backlash. He worked hard upfront, won plenty of headers and set up Dallas’ second goal.
4, Toumani Diagouraga is a more than able alternative to Liam Bridcutt
It’s easy to forget that United have been without on loan Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt for the recent clashes at Burnley and Birmingham, and his omission has been less glaring because of the sterling work of Diagouraga. The defensive midfield man will never be a flashy player who is obviously brilliant but he was particularly good in the first half at Birmingham as United dominated the midfield. There must be a major doubt as to whether Bridcutt will stay beyond his loan spell but at least United have another good option in the defensive midfield area in the shape of Diagouraga.
5, United are on the brink of mathematical safety
Plenty of folk were Tweeting how United were finally safe from relegation after winning at Birmingham yet third-bottom MK Dons could technically still overhaul Leeds given that they are 14 points behind with five games left to play. But Leeds would need to lose every game with the Dons winning all of theirs in order for that to happen. Steve Evans refused to declare Leeds were safe after Tuesday’s win saying “I’m not going to stand like a lemon in six weeks time and have people saying ‘you said we were safe.” Realistically, he knows his initial objective of keeping Leeds in the division has more or less now been achieved and victory against Reading on Saturday would make it mathematically definite.