Capital curse in context, set piece concessions table and injuries update as Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo return - Leeds United Talking Points

AFTER seeing Leeds United suffer a 2-0 defeat at West Ham, the YEP's Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from Monday night's Premier League clash at the London Stadium.

By Lee Sobot
Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 1:07 pm

Capital curse continues

United's awful record in London proved no barrier to sealing a long-awaited return to the Premier League and neither should it prevent the Whites from achieving this season's main objective - staying up.

Despite falling to what was a fifth defeat from their last seven games, Leeds remain in 11th place and nine points clear of third-bottom Fulham who have also played a game more.

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: Leeds United captain Liam Cooper challenges the high boot of West Ham striker Michail Antonio in Monday night's 2-0 defeat at the London Stadium. Photo by JULIAN FINNEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

With six teams also sitting between the Whites and the relegation trapdoor and only 11 games left, Leeds are still as big as 250-1 to go down - the same price as Wolves.

But whether it's a coincidence or otherwise, United's record in London really is something else as the Whites have now gone 16 games without a win in the capital and 14 of those contests have ended in defeat.

There is reasoning lately to a degree as four clubs in the Premier League's top ten are based in London and United have lost at all of them now in Chelsea, West Ham Tottenham and Arsenal and also at 13th-placed Crystal Palace.

Only a trip to Fulham remains and the sooner this London hoodoo is put to bed the better.

Set piece woes and wastefulness

Leeds basically left West Ham with nothing because of two factors - their poor defending at set pieces and missing too many good chances in front of goal.

Both have been areas of concern for some time and they are issues that are preventing the Whites from taking up a higher league placing which their impressive football deserves.

In fairness, United have improved their finishing this season and indeed the Whites have been pretty clinical in some games this term but Monday's contest was definitely not one of those occasions as 17 attempts at goal came to nothing.

The fact that only two of those attempts were on target tells its own tale whereas the Hammers put five on target from their 16 attempts.

It felt like one of those nights when nothing was going in and there will be other and better days but the set pieces issue is more of a concern.

The Whites now have comfortably the worst record in the division at defending set pieces having conceded 14 goals from them, excluding penalties.

That is three goals worse than Sheffield United and the matter clearly needs plenty more work.

Quartet's return and injuries update

United have been hit pretty hard by injuries of late and often in the same area of the pitch yet Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa was able to welcome back four big players at West Ham.

England international Kalvin Phillips came straight back into the side after a five-game absence with a calf injury whilst record signing Rodrigo, Ian Poveda and longer term absentee Gaetano Berardi all made the bench.

Bielsa then revealed afterwards that both the absent Pablo Hernandez (muscle) and Pascal Struijk (knock) had injuries but that Kiko Casilla who was also missing had just been left out with Elia Caprile preferred.

Given that Jamie Shackleton (groin), Robin Koch (knee) and Adam Forshaw (hip) are still out, that means the Whites still have five players injured.

But things definitely seem to be moving in the right direction as Koch's return is seemingly imminent and being able to call on England international Phillips and record signing Rodrigo again is clearly a huge boost as both are sorely missed in the CDM and no 10 roles respectively when not playing.

Rodrigo replaced Tyler Roberts on the hour mark and will naturally take a bit of time to reach his peak but the sooner he is able to start the better and it remains to be seen if he is involved from the outset in Saturday's clash against thriving Chelsea.

At least it's not in London.

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Thank you Laura Collins