Penalty woes; Kemar Roofe's return; Favourites for play-offs and Marcelo Bielsa v Frank Lampard Part III - Leeds United Talking Points

AFTER seeing Leeds United finish the regular Championship season with a hugely disappointing 3-2 loss at Ipswich Town, the YEP's Lee Sobot looks at the key talking points from Sunday's defeat at Portman Road as the Whites prepare for the play-offs.

By Lee Sobot
Monday, 6th May 2019, 12:10 pm
Updated Monday, 6th May 2019, 12:21 pm
SPOT OF BOTHER: Leeds United striker Kemar Roofe reacts after ballooning his penalty over the crossbar. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.
SPOT OF BOTHER: Leeds United striker Kemar Roofe reacts after ballooning his penalty over the crossbar. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

A day and performance to forget

Sunday's clash at the Championship's bottom-placed side appeared to present the ideal chance for Leeds to head into the play-offs with some sort of momentum following the previous weekend's 1-1 draw at home to Aston Villa who saw their ten-game winning run halted by the Whites.

Instead, Leeds are now heading for a two legged semi-final against Derby having lost three of their last four and with just one point from a last possible 12.

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Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa said the display would quickly be forgotten and that the result and performance was not a true reflection of his side and we all know Bielsa's Leeds are capable of something very different to what was witnessed at Portman Road when at their best.

But Leeds quickly need to rediscover that best and in particular iron out the defensive issues that allowed already relegated Ipswich to score three times at home for the first time this season.

Kiko Casilla's two errors were particularly concerning, as was the ease with which Ipswich cut through United within seconds to score their second goal.

A Derby side who have now lost one of their last 12 and won four of their last six will likely come flying out of the traps against Leeds come Saturday evening's clash at Pride Park and it is imperative that United both hold firm early and, as has been the case for some time, again make the most of their own chances in front of goal.

Leeds netted twice for the first time in their last six games at Portman Road but still only hit the target with seven of their 27 attempts at goal and it is only to be hoped that Kemar Roofe benefits from his first 90 minutes since the 1-1 draw at home to Middlesbrough on February 9 - after which two spells on the sidelines with first a knee injury and then a hip problem followed.

Roofe had seven attempts at goal, one of which hit the woodwork and led to the Stuart Dallas goal with five off target and the other blocked.

Heavily involved and now crucial that he and Leeds hit the goal trail against the Rams.

More penalty woes

Much was understandably made as Leeds went 59 games without being awarded a penalty before finally getting the opportunity to net from the spot in December's clash at home to QPR.

Kemar Roofe made no mistake in netting what proved the winning goal but Leeds have been awarded another three spot kicks since with all three missed.

Patrick Bamford missed from 12 yards in the 3-2 win at home to Millwall on March 30 with Pablo Hernandez then failing to hit the back of the net with his spot kick in the 2-1 loss at home to Wigan on April 19.

Roofe then took the opportunity to get United's penalties back on track at Portman Road but the less said about his spot kick the better with the striker completely losing his footing and ballooning his effort over the bar.

The miss ultimately cost Leeds any sort of positive result with Ipswich going on to net a 90th minute winner, though in the grand scheme of things no major harm was done with United already guaranteed a third-placed finish through Derby's 3-1 win at home to West Brom.

But spot kicks could well play a part in the play-offs, be that in normal, extra time or heaven forbid if the semi-final against Derby or even play-off final is decided via a shootout from 12 yards.

You could hardly be confident about United's prospects given such an eventuality given three misses in a row and there are naturally now calls for United to have an actual designated penalty taker with Mateusz Klich a leading shout having scored six out of six penalties for FC Twente.

Klich also produced a composed finish to his spot kick during the penalty shoot out win against Burnley in the Carabao Cup tie of September 2017 in which Hernandez scored from the spot in normal time.

Either way, it is an issue that needs sorting with no margin for error in the play-offs.

No jokes about Spygate please

Bielsa was prepared to make a light-hearted quip about the whole Spygate episode during his pre-match press conference, saying: "I always have more data than what I need really actually and see what happened to me because I looked for all this data."

But United's head coach was in no mood to entertain a question from a national journalist in his post-match press briefing with Bielsa asked if he would now be spying on Derby again ahead of their meeting in the play-offs semi-finals, branding the question ignorant and not funny.

In fairness, probably not the best time to ask the passionate 63-year-old such a question after losing to the division's worst side but there is no escaping the scale of the build up there will be to Bielsa v Lampard parts III and IV on Saturday evening and next Wednesday night.

Bielsa and Leeds are 6-1 up on aggregate against the Rams this season but all that now means nothing and there is no denying Derby approach the clash against the Whites in far better shape and form.

Repeat the two displays against Derby from earlier on in the season and Leeds will be sailing through to Wembley but anything like the display at Portman Road will see the Whites dumped out in the semis.

Yet even in spite of Aston Villa and West Brom also being in far better form of late, it is Leeds who are rated as the bookmakers' favourites to win the play-offs and now comes the ultimate test of Bielsa and his squad to justify that tag.

Scary really to think that the whole season and one which looked destined for automatic promotion now comes down to this.

Unchanged for Derby?

Defeat to the division's bottom side would naturally normally lead to changes for his most teams in their next game yet there is a strong likelihood that Bielsa will again name the same XI for Saturday's first leg against the Rams.

Jack Clarke came on for Adam Forshaw for the only change with Clarke better than of late but still well short of the magic shown in his earlier games.

Much could also depend on whether or not Tyler Roberts returns from an ankle injury in time but with Barry Douglas, Gjanni Alioski and Leif Davis all injured and striker Patrick Bamford serving the second match of a two-game ban, Gaetano Berardi aside, Bielsa's other options are limited to youngsters with Izzy Brown's prospects hardly looking good considering that the Chelsea loanee failed to even make the bench.

That's not to say the young options are not good ones but it's hard to see Sunday's unused substitutes Jamie Shackleton, Ryan Edmondson, Mateusz Bogusz or Robbie Gotts coming into the XI though there are live arguments to suggest that any of that quartet and in particular Edmondson and Shackleton could be worth a go from the bench.

Shackleton in particular could even be worth a start either to add something different in centre midfield or out wide.

Casilla's double clanger has even raised calls for Bailey Peacock-Farrell but it is to be hoped the Spaniard merely had an of day though his hair-raising antics in coming way off his line as a sweeper keeper are becoming a bit of a concern.

Truly impossible to now predict what will happen in the semis against Derby. Anything but straight-forward - the Leeds United way.

Strap in and hold on to your hats, and everything else.