Leeds managed a 1-1 draw against Brentford at Griffin Park last night thanks to Mustapha Carayol’s late equaliser. Here are five things we learned from that game.
1. Five in midfield is not defensive but necessary
It is always easy to suggest 4-4-2 when a team is struggling to win games, but the formation is outdated and is easily overwhelmed by opposition with three central midfielders. Leeds need to play five in the middle, not least because they now have players that are well suited to it. There will always be accusations that having a trio of Liam Bridcutt, Lewis Cook and Toumani Diagougara is defensive, but the alternative allows too much time and space. Leaving Mirco Antenucci up front alone was a big difference maker in the second-half.
2. Souleymane Doukara remains the surprise of the season
At one point Souleymane Doukara seemed further away from the first-team than Griffin Park is from Elland Road. He has done well, integrating himself impressively into the first-team after clearly stepping up his performances in training and working his way into Steve Evans’s plans. Even after Chris Wood was forced off with injury, Doukara provided a semblance of a threat. He is even improving the weaker parts of his game - there were times when the Brentford defence struggled to deal with his hold up play.
3. Lewis Cook cannot be shunted wide again
The one moment of any quality in the first-half came from Lewis Cook picking up the ball in the centre of the park and threading a through ball through to Antenucci. Antenucci went down when he could have shot and scored, looking for a penalty rather than a goal, but it did not detract from the pinpoint accuracy of the pass. Leeds looked much better with Cook in the middle rather than on the left-wing, where he started the game. In the future he needs to spend the entire 90 minutes there.
4. Mustapha Carayol can hit a ball
Panned before he even arrived, Mustapha Carayol has shown the Leeds fans that he possesses quality. It is no real surprise, as he was previously a consistent part of a Middlesbrough team that repeatedly threatened the top six. His debut was perfect, the strike against Rotherham an ideal way for a player to introduce himself to a new fanbase. At Brentford he did it again, earning a draw with one strike that nestled into the bottom corner. He is slowly edging towards being a needed addition in the summer.
5. Leeds are not a million miles from Brentford, but the Bees look weaker than last year
What the game revealed most of all is that Evans’s team is no real distance from Brentford in terms of quality. However, the problem is that the Bees are clearly no longer the side that made their way into the play-offs last season. They lacked potency up front and would have felt angered at their ability to grab a second that would have undoubtedly killed off the tie. Still, Leeds managed to earn a second draw against the London side this campaign, a step up from their two defeats in the 2014/15 season.