Dissecting defeat, left back issue, a third 'double' and key injuries mounting - Leeds United Talking Points

AFTER seeing Leeds United's recent unbeaten run come to an end, the YEP's Lee Sobot picks out a few key talking points from Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Brighton.

Sunday, 2nd May 2021, 5:45 am

Abrupt end to unbeaten run

Leeds went into Saturday's contest on the back of their longest unbeaten run of the season yet produced one of their worst displays of the season, if not the worst, to see that six-game unbeaten run come to an abrupt end.

Quite what went wrong is rather hard to fathom and head coach Marcelo Bielsa said that his side's poor display was essentially down to a failure to stem the effectiveness of Brighton's three centre-backs.

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FAMILIAR FACE: Brighton's former Whites loanee Ben White, centre, strides on as Leeds United duo Jack Harrison, left, and Rodrigo, right, look to challenge. Photo by BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

If Leeds had their way, one of those centre backs in question in Ben White would be a Whites player and the former United loanee excelled at the weekend alongside Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster in the back line.

Leeds also clearly missed the injured Kalvin Phillips in addition to star winger Raphinha being out and for whatever reason Bielsa's side just never got anywhere near to clicking like they can.

The Whites had chances but put simply the Seagulls had more with 17 attempts at goal, five of which were on target compared to United's 11 shots at goal with only two on target.

There is an argument to highlight that Brighton naturally had more to play for in starting the day fourth bottom and very much needing the points to safeguard their Premier Division status.

But there wouldn't be much chance of Bielsa allowing his players any slack and a commanding and physically dominant Seagulls outfit just had United's number and executed their game plan to perfection.

In truth, Graham Potter's side should have won by a bigger margin and would have done but for some poor finishing aside from a clinical Pascal Gross penalty and terrific turn and strike from Danny Welbeck.

Brighton subsequently became only the third team this season to complete the league double over the Whites along with West Ham and Wolves and Leeds will be glad to see the back of them.

Key injuries mounting

Bielsa has had to contend with a large number of injuries this season and often in the same position at the same time, namely at centre-back and attacking midfield.

With Adam Forshaw returning with an outing for the under-23s last month, the head coach suddenly had the rare luxury of a fully fit squad to pick from.

But the injuries are once again stacking up with Phillips forced to miss the clash at Brighton due to a knee issue and Helder Costa sidelined with the back injury picked up in the previous weekend's goalless draw against Manchester United.

Raphinha also remains out with the thigh injury that he suffered from the hefty challenge by Fernandinho in the 2-1 win at Manchester City whilst Forshaw suffered a setback during his outing for the 23s.

Phillips and Raphinha in particular are huge players for the Whites and arguably United's two star players.

Without them, and with Leeds 1-0 down, Bielsa made three changes but the introductions of Ian Poveda, Rodrigo and finally Pablo Hernandez failed to make much of an impact.

Leeds have been superb this season and Saturday's extremely disappointing defeat does nothing to change that for a side who remain in ninth place.

But Saturday's defeat and performance does again emphasize the need for strengthening over the summer in order to kick on and challenge higher up the table next term.

The left back issue

Gjanni Alioski has tried his best to excel at left back and has readily admitted himself in previous interviews that he is continually looking to improve his defending.

He is, after all, naturally a winger.

But Brighton caused Leeds big problems down that side and there was no excuse for Alioski's defending in bringing down Danny Welbeck for the penalty that led to the Seagulls taking an early lead.

The left back had a troubled first half and was replaced by Ian Poveda at the break as the versatile Stuart Dallas moved from the right wing to replace Alioski.

Dallas is very effective at left back but has clearly thrived most as a centre midfielder this term and United's issue on the left side of defence is clear.

Alioski's contract is up in the summer and it seems pretty obvious that signing a natural left back will be a big priority in the summer.

For now, Leeds have four more games remaining and need to ensure that such a brilliant Premier League return does not fizzle out with a low key finish.

United's usually brilliant football is definitely worthy of a top half finish but there is still plenty of work left to ensure that is achieved, starting with next Saturday's hosting of Tottenham Hotspur.

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Thank you Laura Collins