Leeds United boss Christiansen reveals why he is most worried over set-pieces

Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leeds United head coach Thomas Christiansen. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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head COACH Thomas Christiansen has already pin-pointed defending at corners as an area that his Leeds United side must improve on.

An old Achilles heel of conceding from corners came back to haunt the Whites in Sunday’s friendly in Austria against La Liga side Eibar who twice scored from the set-piece.

Matthew Pennington. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Matthew Pennington. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The concession of two goals from corners ultimately denied United a draw with Leeds 3-0 down at half-time before producing a strong response through goals from Chris Wood and Ezjgjan Alioski.

Yet as Christiansen’s side pushed for a draw, a second goal conceded from a corner ultimately put the Spanish side out of sight and United’s head coach is already keen to iron out such defensive issues.

United’s players returned to training today after having two days off following their Austria tour.

“I spoke to the players at half-time and said that’s not enough,” an honest Christiansen told LUTV.

Pontus Jansson gets a hug from a fan.'PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Pontus Jansson gets a hug from a fan.'PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“We have to go strong if we want to do something and we cannot relax in this situation. We have had two goals against us from corners where we have to have more respnsibility. We have to be stronger and defend the goal better.”

United started the clash against Eibar with Pontus Jansson lining up alongside new Everton loanee Matthew Pennington, who was then substituted for fellow centre-back Liam Cooper at half-time.

Jansson then left the field when picking up a minor injury which left his replacement Conor Shaughnessy partnering Cooper at the heart of the defence. Leeds remain undeniably short of centre-backs and Jansson will be suspended for United’s first two games of the forthcoming campaign.

The Swede will miss both the Championship opener at Bolton Wanderers a week on Sunday, as well as the first-round EFL Cup tie at home to Port Vale the following Wednesday. United will take in their final pre-season friendly on Saturday at home to Oxford United.

Reflecting on the 4-2 loss to Eibar – tenth in La Liga last term – Christiansen reasoned: “We had two different times – the first half and the second half. In the first half we did too many mistakes and with those mistakes, with the opportunities they had, they scored from that.

“We didn’t have enough intensity in the game as we should and against a team like Eibar – from the first division in Spain – it’s difficult to take something positive out if you don’t go 100 per cent.”

A strong second-half response, though, ultimately gave United’s head coach plenty of encouragement for the future, and Christiansen was also highly impressed by his side’s display in the recent 1-1 draw with Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach.

“I am very happy that there was a change of attitude,” said Christiansen, reflecting on his side’s second-half fightback.

“t was good also that Chris (Wood) found the net and the second goal that we scored was a nice goal also.

“And again, at the end they scored in one set-piece but I will take with me especially the game against Monchengladbach and the second half.”