Leeds United 1-0 Watford - a bad day for Xisco Munoz, a good one for Liam Cooper and off-camera moments

After seeing Leeds United record a first victory of the new Premier League season with Saturday's win at home to Watford, Graham Smyth picks out who had a good day, who had a bad day, and some off camera moments you might have missed.

Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 11:17 am
Updated Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 11:18 am
LEADING FROM THE FRONT: Leeds United captain Liam Cooper, centre, with Rodrigo, left, and Raphinha, right, as Kalvin Phillips, behind, looks on following Saturday's 1-0 victory against Watford at Eland Road. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Good day

Diego Llorente

Started the game brilliantly, marked his comeback with a goal and continued to play well even when he wasn't as influential for Leeds. He would have settled for 90 minutes, given his injury issues and frustration, so to win the game must have felt incredible. Could be hugely important for Leeds this season.

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Kalvin Phillips

No signs of distraction whatsoever. A relaxed, happy figure before the game, fully focused throughout it. Looked so comfortable defensively. It was important to improve on last week's performance and he did that, handsomely.

Liam Cooper

A captain's performance. When questions are being asked of your side, you need to lead and he looked every inch the leader, especially in the latter stages when he was blocking shots.

Bad day

Xisco Munoz

He was asked what the plan was and didn't really come up with an answer. Oddly he seemed to find some of the questions he was asked amusing. Watford fans will not have been amused with what they saw. No discernable plan, no real ideas and certainly no intensity.

Ismaïla Sarr

The dangerman was anonymous. Junior Firpo kept him quiet, proving more than capable of restricting the freedom the speedster thrives on.

Number of the day

3

Taking three points was all important. Of course performances matter and this was a pleasing, if not perfect, one. Leeds mustered 20 shots and while it is a slight concern that only four were on target, they restricted Watford to five, with one on target. It was a dominant display for the vast majority of the game. Just what was required.

Turning point

Kick-off

There was no turning point in the game. Leeds simply started well and went from there. They took the lead and always looked deserving of victory. This result may well become a turning point in itself. At the very least it should put smiles back on faces for the international break.

Off-camera moments

Kalvin Phillips was in good form during the warm-up, waving and flashing his smile for a delighted young fan in the front row of the West Stand. He looked completely at home and relaxed, despite having been talk of the town all week. Raphinha kicking the ball at his back side added to the laid back feel ahead of the game.

Simon Hooper's decision not to award Daniel James infuriated the Leeds bench, who were all on their feet in a second to appeal to the fourth official. All bar Marcelo Bielsa that is, who remained crouched on the touchline. James took the opportunity to make his point to Hooper as they went off at the break. Things evened themselves out, perhaps, later in the game when Hooper gave Leeds a free-kick after the ball ended up in their net.

A first half Watford corner saw Danny Rose completely unmarked, prompting Bielsa's assistant Pablo Quiroga to issue instructions to Jamie Shackleton to mark him for the next one.

With seven minutes to go before the break there was a mass exodus from the Watford bench as a number of subs headed to the dressing room, only for Josh King to go down with a knee problem. A member of staff was dispatched to the tunnel and came back a moment or two later with reinforcements, in case they were needed. Losing two players to injury rubbed salt in the wounds on a bad day for Watford, both King and Francisco Sierralta forced off.

Jack Harrison was not going to play in this game unless absolutely necessary, said Marcelo Bielsa, but the winger still warmed up thoroughly to remain an option for the head coach. During the second half he combined his warm up with autograph duties for a little girl in the West Stand. When Tyler Roberts also obliged she ran 40 yards in celebration.

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Thank you Laura Collins