David Prutton: Leeds United delivering the goods once again

Hull City manager Nigel Adkins. PIC: Tony Johnson
Hull City manager Nigel Adkins. PIC: Tony Johnson
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LEEDS UNITED seem to be back in the habit of winning and turning over other teams.

Last Saturday’s visitors Norwich City came to Elland Road on the back of a good result against Sheffield Wednesday but that’s the Championship in a nutshell for you.

We have seen Norwich win against Wednesday but then they have come up against Leeds who were clinical as and when they needed to be and have beaten them thanks to Pontus Jansson’s header.

Momentum is absolutely key but I think from what we have seen so far in perhaps the way Thomas Christiansen has dealt with it, Thomas will not get too carried away with great runs of form or poor runs of form.

He seems to have found a bit of middle ground where he is able to deal with both which is absolutely paramount.

Jansson’s goal came from a set-piece and I can understand Leeds and Thomas working on set-pieces with their new set-piece specialist Gianni Vio because, aside from formations and things, during an actual football match it is one of the only times where you can set people up.

Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen. PIC: James Hardisty

Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen. PIC: James Hardisty

You can say: “I’m going to stand here and he’s going to stand there and the ball is hopefully going to be put into this position where we can move and do this with it or we are going to defend it like this.”

But I think the ball in from Pawel Cibicki was superb and I can’t see how a set-piece specialist does that.

You are relying on the quality of the ball into the box and the quality of header.

You are also relying on whoever is picking Pontus up, not to pick him up or for the ball to not be blocked. And even then you have got to get the ball past the goalkeeper.

The other side of it is that Leeds will now face two teams who are fighting for their lives in Hull and Burton

David Prutton

I would be fascinated to see how the work with the set-piece specialist works out because there are so many variables from the man running up to kick the ball onwards.

I’m not saying it is in the lap of the gods but it is down to the players involved.

But maybe having a set-piece specialist gives a different voice on the training pitch, even if it just comes to doing that in training.

At the end of a long training session, that different voice could snap them into the focus of the need to make sure that they need do it consistently and that then drip feeds into them to be second nature.

Keemar Roofe and Pawel Cibicki. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Keemar Roofe and Pawel Cibicki. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Looking at Cibicki, if you look at the delivery that he has got, if that’s something that he can do consistently then he is obviously an addition to the team. And with new players coming in, they all settle at different rates.

Maybe if he is not as dynamic as a Gjanni Alioski or Samu Saiz then it’s maybe tougher for him to get into it.

Also, if he was behind Pablo Hernandez in the pecking order, Pablo has been that good a player over the course of time that he has been at Leeds that Pawel would have had to wait for his chance anyway.

But if you look at the block of games that Leeds have coming up, if you can get decent results and performances under your belt then that shirt can look a little bit more like your own.

Felix Wiedwald obviously produced some decent saves against Norwich and that’s the challenge that he has laid down to himself.

You can’t get away from it as a goalkeeper because you are in such an exposed position and mistakes are made because it’s only human nature.

It’s then down to that player to rectify them which Felix seems to have done and, again, the word that comes out of all of this is consistency. You don’t need Felix to make Gordon Banks saves every week, you just need him to be reliable and somebody that the back four feel comfortable with and you need there to be an understanding there.

He’s got to cover the bases of what you need to do and it sounds very straightforward – keep the ball out of the net and dominate his area, be a commanding presence and communicate with those who he has got there.

That might then dovetail in with someone who is working on set-pieces and wanting their goalkeeper to be vocal and organised.

But the other side of it is that Leeds will now face two teams who are fighting for their lives in Hull and Burton and Hull are definitely a work in progress under Nigel Adkins.

They have had one good result in winning 3-2 at home to Brentford and one not so good result in the 1-0 loss at Cardiff and it’s a toss of a coin type thing as to what you will get from those two teams. Leeds will go into the game against Hull with confidence and so they should. But what we saw from Hull against Cardiff, and even against Brentford, was the positivity that Nigel gives to his teams. That was there for all to see.

Against Cardiff they just came up against a side that were more clinical. There’s also the Yorkshire derby element of it against Hull but I think with the players that Nigel has got at disposal and with the likes of Jarrod Bowen coming back to fitness who has been a miss for them, I think it will be tough.

Leeds will need to do all of the things they have been doing, the organisational side of it and players being a little bit different in terms of their quality such as balls into the box and things like the header from Pontus.

It will be tough and I can’t see anything but a close game with Leeds perhaps edging it at home going into the Christmas period, signing off with a win in front off a big crowd.

Upcoming Sky-televised Championship fixtures: Aston Villa v Sheffield United 5.30pm Saturday, Burton Albion v Leeds United 3pm Tuesday, Brentford v Aston Villa 7.30pm Tuesday.

Billy Bremner wears red during the 1973 FA Cup tie at Derby. (Photo: Andrew Varley)

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