Patrick Bamford, starting Eddie Nketiah, Marcelo Bielsa's corners issue and baying for blood at Salford City - Leeds United Talking Points

AFTER seeing Leeds United held to a frustrating 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest, Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from Saturday's Championship clash at Elland Road and has the Final Word on the Whites heading into a new week.

By Lee Sobot
Sunday, 11th August 2019, 12:41 pm
CHANCES: Leeds United's Patrick Bamford closes in on goal during Saturday's 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.
CHANCES: Leeds United's Patrick Bamford closes in on goal during Saturday's 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images.

Patrick Bamford or Eddie Nketiah

Marcelo Bielsa's Whites again played some lovely football upon their return to Elland Road but the conclusion was an all too familiar tale as Leeds only took a point despite bossing Forest throughout.

In many ways, the match mirrored last season - impressive on the eye but failing to reap the full rewards through squandering too many chances in front of goal - 14 shots on goal this time as opposed to Forest's six after 68 per cent of possession.

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Pablo Hernandez's goal aside, the three best opportunities fell to striker Patrick Bamford who failed to match his impressive hold up play and passing game with the required finishes in front of goal.

Meantime United's new striker signing Eddie Nketiah looked on from the sidelines following his deadline day season-long loan switch from Arsenal and Saturday's game has already left Bielsa with a big decision to make within the first week of Nketiah's arrival.

Nketiah is extremely highly-regarded and an England under-21 international who has already been prolific for both Arsenal and England's youth sides with three goals for the Gunners first team already on the board.

Quite simply, the striker has come to Elland Road to feature heavily but the 20-year-old was evidently not quite ready at the weekend and failed to make the bench.

It is also very much the Bielsa way to introduce new recruits gradually with new signings quite rightly required to impress in training and learn the Bielsa demands and style of football first.

Nketiah was still yet to train with Leeds come Saturday's clash against Forest but in short the Arsenal loanee promises goals - of which a lack of are threatening to be United's downfall.

It would probably be too big a call to throw the young Gunner straight into the side for Saturday's clash at Wigan Athletic meaning Bamford would seem likely to again start in the lone striker role and it should be stressed that Bielsa always has the option of going two upfront or even playing Nketiah at no 10 or out wide.

But Nketiah himself has already admitted he is a centre forward who is best playing through the middle and be it Bamford or Nketiah Leeds quickly need one to start taking United's chances.Set piece woes

Apart from the failure to make the most of their goalscoring chances, the other disappointing aspect of United's display was the age-old habit of being caused problems from set pieces.

Leeds again looked particularly vulnerable from corners and Forest will rue the fact they only mustered three of them compared to United's ten.

One of those three corners led to Forest's scrambled equaliser through Lewis Grabban and an earlier corner should also have yielded a goal when Michael Dawson sent a free header over the bar.

In mitigation, there were strong shouts for both a foul and handball in the build up to Grabban's leveller but there can be no denying the concerns at set pieces and definitely in that instance the loss of six-foot-four Pontus Jansson to Brentford is no help.

Jansson's replacement Ben White is already proving an excellent acquisition with the 21-year-old Brighton loanee looking cool, calm and composed and quickly forming a very good partnership alongside skipper Liam Cooper who also overall had a fairly good game.

But however it is remedied, the defending of set pieces needs some work as rather like in the case of missing too many chances, that vulnerability is undoing United's otherwise superb work.

No Christmas cards for referee Rob Jones

Marcelo Bielsa and midfielder Matreusz Klich should both be commended for refusing to blame referee Jones for the failure to take all three points and it should be said that Jones might well have handed Kalvin Phillips a red card and not a yellow for his late challenge in the first half.

But how Leeds were not awarded at least one penalty beggars belief with Stuart Dallas practically kicked into the stands by Jack Robinson in the closing stages.

Adam Forshaw also saw a shout for a spot kick waved away in the first half though that one might have been soft while Helder Costa was twice sent sprawling in the closing stages.

The Dallas shout in particular looked an absolute stone-waller and it was no surprise that Jones received huge loud boos at the full time whistle and predictable chant about the standard of refereeing at Elland Road; even if the Whites could and should have won in any case.Good start and all eyes on Wigan - not Salford - nextIt was all too easy to feel deflated after Saturday's draw - Klich himself admitted the point felt like a defeat - and really Leeds should be sat on six points from six.

But four is still a decent return from clashes away at Bristol City and at home to Nottingham Forest - two sides who ought to be at least challenging at the right end of the table even if both currently only sit with one point.

Only two sides have six - Sheffield Wednesday and Lee Bowyer's Charlton Athletic with Leeds third on goal difference with four points with the likes of Fulham and West Brom - second and third favourites behind Leeds - taking time to find their feet.

The Baggies were held 1-1 at home to Millwall on Saturday following their opening weekend win at Forest but Fulham are now up and running after a 2-0 win at home to Blackburn Rovers followed their opening weekend loss at Barnsley.

It obviously needs stating that we are only two games into a 46-game marathon but three points now are as good as three points in April and especially with last season's conclusion in mind, Leeds could really do with building up a head of steam and decent advantage in the top two.

Saturday's clash at Wigan Athletic ought to present the Whites a good chance to make it seven points out of nine - especially if Nketiah is involved - meaning Tuesday night's Carabao Cup clash at Salford City has to play very much second fiddle.

The game will have a huge build up and almost a mini Leeds v Manchester United feel considering that class of 92 Gary Neville, Phil Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt all own ten per cent of the club and no doubt several will be in attendance.

The Sky cameras are not surprisingly be screening the game live at a 5,106 capacity Peninsula Stadium which will be absolutely bouncing.

Salford - who are in the Football League for the first time - will be baying for United's blood and Bielsa will be keen to avoid an upset but Saturday's trip to Wigan overwhelmingly matters most and a raft of changes looks wise and likely.