Explaining the unexplainable, Clotet reveals weak spots, a worrying trend and the Baggies await - Leeds United talking points

Leeds United secured a thrilling 5-4 victory over Birmingham City in the Championship on Sunday - but what were some of the key talking points?

By Joe Urquhart
Monday, 30th December 2019, 12:11 pm
Updated Monday, 30th December 2019, 12:46 pm
Leeds United celebrate at Birmingham City. (Bruce Rollinson)
Leeds United celebrate at Birmingham City. (Bruce Rollinson)

Nine-goal thriller... wait, what?

This isn't the Leeds United we know under Marcelo Bielsa... but it is entertaining and pulsating nonetheless.

A nine-goal stunner at St Andrew's signalled the end of an up and down decade for the Whites, and there could be no better game to sum up the club's turbulent period since promotion from League One nearly 10 years ago.

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It was United's first 5-4 victory in the club's history and it couldn't have been more dramatic.

As Luke Ayling burst into the box in the fifth minute of added time Helder Costa's opening goal of the afternoon felt like a distant memory.

The right-back was a driving force as he was involved in three of the Whites goals - his volley to put United back in front after City's fightback will live long in the memory. As will his dancing in front of the away end for the winner which finally sealed the points.

A worrying trend, though, has developed for Leeds over the busy Christmas period.

Having conceded just 10 goals in their opening 21 games, Bielsa's men have now seen the same amount scored against them in their last four Championship outings.

The fixture at Birmingham can be categorised as a one of those freak games, but the Argentine will be working hard to solve his sides defensive woes.

Injuries have hit but a lack of control in midfield has developed over the hectic festive period which has left United exposed. It was a stunning game of attacking football, but gave plenty for Leeds to think about ahead of a major test at West Brom on New Year's Day.

Clotet's tactical battle with Bielsa

Birmingham City head coach Pep Clotet was high in his praise for Marcelo Bielsa after the game claiming "he is the best manager in the country, in the world maybe.”

But the former Whites assistant manager revealed how he believed he could get at Leeds post-match, and it is something for the Argentine to contemplate. United have had issues from set-pieces this season with the Spaniard also admitting his outfit targeted crosses from out wide in the latter stages.

"We knew we could hurt them a lot on set-play," he said.

"We prepared very well on that, we are a very strong team on set-plays because obviously we need it. That was the main part of the goals we have scored this season.

"We knew when the situation came to the last few minutes of the game and the game would open up a lot, we could hurt as well with crosses when Montero and Bela came on.

"Scoring four goals against Leeds is something that should fill the lads in the locker room with pride."

Throw your analysis out the window

Sometimes trying to explain the unexplainable is best left alone.

Thoughts turned to West Brom's analysts on Monday morning and you'd think they would be better throwing the tapes from St Andrew's out of the Hawthorns office windows.

Out of sight, out of mind.

United, though, do need to learn lessons fast from their defensive issues ahead of playing the highest scoring side in the division. The Baggies have scored 47 goals in 25 games this season, five more than the Whites.

Leeds' early season form was built on solid foundations, and if United are to push on and reach the promised land in 2020 they need to rediscover their defensive solidity fast.

It's a biggie with the Baggies

Leeds head to the Hawthorns on New Year's Day for a clash between the Championship's top two.

It is United who hold the slender advantage as they sit top of the pile on goal difference alone. Bielsa and Slaven Bilic have seen their sides accumulate 51 points from 25 games, opening up a nine-point gap over third-placed Fulham.

Nothing will be decided in the Midlands in terms of promotion, but momentum can be gained again after a busy period which saw rare defeats for both.