At Arsenal, instead, we shot ourselves in both feet. It was so disappointing because we saw in the second half what spirit the boys have, but there’s just no way you can start a game like that and expect to come away with anything, not in the Premier League.
Yes, it’s a poor mistake initially for the opener but it’s one that you can certainly try and recover from. Then the second went in so very quickly after that and the reaction to that was poor from a number of players unfortunately.
Luke Ayling will be absolutely devastated with the red card and his challenge because that’s very much unlike him. He’s been tremendous this season but for him to not only leave his team-mates down to 10 in that game but also then to watch on now for the next three, is going to be hugely hard for him but also hard for the team to kind of compensate.
I agree with Jesse Marsch when he says it’s not the time to start pointing fingers. That’s easy to do but I don’t see how it will help Leeds at this point. We have injuries, we now have a costly suspension, so get on with it. Whoever is left, Leeds have to galvanise and do the best they possibly can and the day of reckoning will come at the end of the season.
Lots of things will have to be looked over and lots of lessons will have to be learned but, at the moment, that’s not what we need. What we need now is absolutely everyone pulling together and really believing that we can get out of this.
There were actually a couple of positives from the Arsenal game, although only in the second half and Lewis Bate was one of them. I was impressed with how he came on and really settled things down.
We got a foothold in the game, with 10 men, and caused a few problems and Bate got his foot on the ball and played it nice and simply, which is so important in a game like that.
Kalvin Phillips couldn’t quite dictate as he would like, again, but he’s still such a strong presence in there for us and one of the leaders now, especially with Ayling out. As for the position Ayling leaves vacant, it’s a difficult one for Marsch because the best young understudy has come back from Cardiff City but he can’t play. Jamie Shackleton would be an absolute shoo in ordinarily, yet he hasn’t played much football at all and missed so many games so it’s very difficult to just throw him in. I really don’t like the Raphinha option - he’s been played there a couple of times now and I don’t see that one. Or do you go nice and solid and put a centre-half out there. It’s a tough one. It certainly wouldn’t be Raphinha for me. Marsch has got to get that decision, and the rest, exactly right.
I expect a Chelsea team that will come to win the game. It doesn’t matter what side they put out, with the quality they’ve got, the type of players they’ve got, it’s going to be the same mountain to climb, the same challenge. It doesn’t matter who they put out and thinking this or that player is not going to play in this one is glossing over what is important. We’re going to be facing a very good side. They obviously need the result and they’re going to be really annoyed that they threw away a couple of points in their previous game, so you’ve got to be ready for a Chelsea team firing on all cylinders. We have to be ready for that.
The idea of Chelsea phoning it in, at Elland Road, against Leeds United, hasn’t even entered my thought process. The crowd, the feeling between the two clubs and where they’re at, all points to a very good side coming here trying to get all three points.
The job for Marsch is to inspire a great performance and we’ve heard all about how he’s trying to do that with his speeches to the players.
When I was a player there, just like today, were lots of different styles of managers. For me, the managers who did give rousing speeches did it very much behind closed doors, in the dressing room, for a couple of minutes and then we got the message and off we went. Every manager is obviously different but I think what is important is that, at some point, there is a galvanising time where you all get together and say ‘right, this is really it and this is what we have to do’. Every player has to get that message loud and clear. The manager obviously leads that but it can be players as well. The difficulty for us is that we are missing so many of those key leaders. Liam Cooper coming back would give us one voice which will be really, really welcome. But I don’t care who inspires them or how they do it.
You can read as many messages as you like from all the past greats, as long as somehow the boys go out there with a clear plan, play with confidence, avoid mistakes and give themselves at least a chance of winning points.
If we win our last two, it might be enough to stay up but we’re still not really sure so I think a draw would be a positive result against Chelsea. Anything less than that it gets more difficult but there is still time to sort it out. We’ve just got to give ourselves a chance so a good start is vital and, if we get the first goal, it will be absolutely ideal.