Early Leeds United points on board far more important than cup runs - David Prutton

LEEDS United will take in their first Premier League home game for 16 years today against Fulham but still without any fans in the stadium.

By David Prutton
Saturday, 19th September 2020, 5:55 am

That’s a huge shame if you look at it purely from a footballing perspective but in the sense of the current climate we all absolutely understand.

That doesn’t mean to say that if you are a Leeds fan you are any less frustrated but that’s just the way it is.

It was a cracking start to the season for Leeds in Saturday’s clash at Liverpool if you look at it purely from a neutral perspective which I’m sure that Leeds fans can’t.

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DOWN AT THE FIRST: Leeds United and record signing Rodrigo console Jamie Shackleton after his penalty is saved in Wednesday night's shoot-out against Hull City. Photo by Oli Scarff - Pool/Getty Images.

But they were treated to a way of playing football at Anfield that ruffled a few feathers and made people sit up and take notice.

Captain Liam Cooper was forced to miss the clash with a calf injury meaning new signing Robin Koch and Pascal Struijk were paired together at centre-back and defensively at times as a collective Leeds were possibly naive and a little bit impatient.

The penalty at the end of the game was a reflection of that but the way Leeds went toe to toe with the best team in the league was to be commended.

But the one air of realism that you have to factor in is, yes, it was great and, yes, it got people talking about them, not that they weren’t before, but fundamentally they still came away with nothing.

It was one of those where it was perhaps seen as a bit of a free-hit against the champions.

But you can tell from the way that Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa goes about his football matches that he would have been incredibly frustrated at not coming away with anything and also frustrated that they managed to ship in four goals.

Purely from an entertainment point of view I was sat there watching it and just enthralled really and just happy to see them back and mixing it with those types of teams.

Koch and Rodrigo might not have had the best debuts with both conceding penalties but these things happen.

Jonathan Woodgate was at a certain time rightly regarded as one of Leeds’ best but then look at what he did on his debut for Real Madrid - scoring an own goal, getting sent off and they lost a ridiculous game.

Someone’s debut does not necessarily quantify or qualify what his experience for Leeds is going to be.

But why not start against the best teams and why not get on and see what happens against them?

It’s a rude awakening to the Premier League but Leeds did themselves a lot of favours.

It obviously means more if you come away with something as in a point or three and it was baptism of fire for both Rodrigo and Koch but they will only grow from it you would hope.

But now Leeds need to get up and running with a win against Fulham today as points are imperative against them and also against Sheffield United the following weekend with the way the Blades have retooled and evolved.

I will be intrigued to see how they measure up against Leeds after being away from them for a season.

Fulham had a rude welcome back to the Premier League in losing 3-0 at home to an Arsenal side who seem to be growing in confidence week by week and over the last few months.

It’s still a huge test for Leeds but one from which they absolutely have to be earmarking three points from if their first port of call is consolidation and hopefully they get there sooner rather than later.

Recent form would suggest a Leeds win but let’s not disregard the kind of fight that Fulham will need to show and how imperative the points are to them.

We are talking about it from a Leeds perspective but Fulham are in exactly the same position as a recently promoted team that needs to consolidate.

Leeds have spent a fair bit of cash and are perhaps looking to follow the Wolves example or the Sheffield United example and finishing as high as possible.

But accumulating these points as quickly as possible and getting the work done early in the season will stand them in good stead for whatever comes towards the end.

We’ve also had the Carabao Cup exit on penalties at home to Hull City this week and I know Marcelo will have wanted to have a run in the competition, especially to play the youngsters in it as he did on Wednesday night.

I understand the glory and the clamour and the heritage of going deep into a cup competition.

But given how convoluted the fixtures are going to be this season if Leeds fall at the first hurdle at every single cup competition yet there are still three teams worse than them at the end of the Premier League season then I can’t see anyone giving a stuff.

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Thank you Laura Collins