Constant 'danger', Raphinha's impact and Robin Koch's perfect response - Leeds United Talking Points

AFTER seeing Leeds United record a first league win at Everton since 1990, Lee Sobot runs through a few talking points from Saturday's 1-0 triumph at Goodison Park.

Sunday, 29th November 2020, 11:48 am
Updated Sunday, 29th November 2020, 11:52 am

A triumph for perseverance

Marcelo Bielsa said Leeds United were working on creating even more moments of danger ahead of Saturday’s clash at Everton.

He wasn’t wrong. One week after seeing his side produce 25 attempts on goal against Arsenal, Leeds served up another 13 in the first half of the weekend’s clash at Goodison Park.

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BREAKTHROUGH: Leeds United winger Raphinha races away to celebrate his decisive strike in Saturday's 1-0 win at Everton. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

As the tally continued to grow after the interval, United’s latest assignment looked like producing the same outcome as against the Gunners - a plethora of chances yet no breakthrough and a goalless draw.

It’s not that Leeds haven’t been working on their finishing, it just doesn’t always make a difference. Just ask Bielsa.

“There’s no direct relationship between the more we train these aspects and the better they get. What the sessions do influence is the amount of opportunities you can create.”

Yet more opportunities ultimately means more chances of a goal and Saturday’s victory at Everton was a triumph for perseverance and once again sticking to Bielsa’s plan A.

United’s finishing definitely remains a concern and the issue has often been addressed by Bielsa in press conferences throughout his first two seasons in charge.

Patrick Bamford was clearly upset with something when he came off and the Whites no 9 should have added to his tally though Pickford was no help and Bamford still had a good game overall.

Yet Leeds can certainly be clinical on their day as was the case in this season’s clashes against Liverpool and Fulham when very few opportunities were not taken.

The Whites were also hugely unlucky against Arsenal with the Gunners rescued by the frame of the goal three times.

Up until the 79th minute, Saturday’s contest was less about luck and more about a combination of wayward finishing and fine goalkeeping from England’s no 1 Jordan Pickford.

But if United continue to create the sheer amount of chances as the current rate then they will be more than fine with Raphinha’s first strike for the club giving Leeds the rewards they deserved at Goodison.

United have now created a whopping 48 attempts on goal during their last two games against two of the better sides in the division.

It would have been pretty criminal had Leeds collected just two points from those fixtures or worse still one with anything still possible with 11 minutes left at Goodison.

Yet Raphinha’s strike ended a run of 231 minutes without a goal and on the balance of probability more goals should surely follow given the healthy number of chances created.

Really it is the conversion of those which will determine how high up the Whites finish with Leeds now 11th.

The world at Raphinha's feet

Brazilian winger recruit Raphinha would have been a strong contender to be man of the match even before his superb strike in the 79th minute with the rock solid Kalvin Phillips the other obvious contender.

Leeds paid a hefty fee of £17m to land the 23-year-old from Rennes but that is already looking like something of a bargain given his obvious talent, especially considering his still young age.

Raphinha has tricks in abundance, fantastic passing, pace, good dribbling skills and as we saw on Saturday a hell of a decent shot.

Graeme Souness also highlighted during Sky Sports’ coverage of the game how Raphinha was clearly prepared to work his socks off and run and defend, as is a must for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.

Scarily, his Goodison outing was still only his second start for Leeds and second in English football and there is quite simply no telling just how far Raphinha could progress.

Robin Koch's perfect response

Whilst for the second game in a row the focus fell on United’s attacking prowess, it is worth highlighting another Whites clean sheet - the accumulation of which will be equally vital to just where Leeds finish.

There were a few dicey moments and Everton themselves created 15 attempts at goal and United have a lot to thank Illan Meslier for with the Frenchman producing some excellent saves.

But the centre back axis of Liam Cooper and Robin Koch seems to be gradually improving and Koch deserves huge credit for his part in consecutive clean sheets on the back of playing 90 minutes in a 6-0 thumping for Germany against Spain.

The German has produced the perfect reaction since.

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Thank you Laura Collins