NEEDLE from last season, the return of Pontus Jansson and a Bees side renowned for their attacking prowess.
Wednesday night’s Championship clash between Leeds United and Brentford at Elland Road offered the prospect of any amount of scripts.
In the end, a slow burner of a contest featured not a single threatening chance until the 24th minute.
Even Jansson’s return failed to live up to the hype with the defender arriving at Elland Road one hour before kick-off and marching straight into the tunnel ahead of a warm-up which passed without incident and in the blink of an eye.
And by the end of the night it was very much one of United’s summer arrivals and not departures that was the talk of the city as Arsenal loanee Eddie Nketiah fired home the only goal of the game just four minutes after coming on.
Wednesday night’s clash marked the return of Jansson to Elland Road five weeks after his summer switch to Brentford after a breakdown in relationship between the club and the player.
Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa admitted Jansson had nevertheless been United’s best player last season with Leeds having new Brighton loanee centre-back Ben White to thank for filling the Swede’s big shoes without putting a foot wrong.
Of more concern to Leeds approaching Wednesday’s clash against the Bees was the condition of fellow centre-back and captain Liam Cooper who Bielsa said was an injury doubt alongside Barry Douglas and Gjanni Alioski.
Cooper made it but Douglas did not with Alioski coming in at left-back for the only change.
All eyes on the Brentford teamsheet were drawn to Jansson, captaining the side on his Elland Road return as he has done since the start of the season following his switch to the captial.
Eyes, though, were also drawn to Brentford’s attacking options – a front three of Ollie Watkins, Sergi Canos and new French recruit Bryan Mbeumo who between them created a plethora of chances in the second half of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Hull City.
Brentford were immediately on the attack through Canos but his foray forwards and a second-minute corner both came to nothing.
More neat footwork from Canos then saw the Spaniard work his way to the edge of the Whites’ box before United cleared.
Jansson, meanwhile, was required to make only one early touch with a typically big-booted clearance with United’s only early foray forwards ending with Mateuesz Klich being flagged offside.
Another clearance from Jansson in the eighth minute was then greeted by a few small boos which became louder as the Swede mopped up at the back a few moments later.
It took until the 10th minute of a slow burner to reach the game’s first shot on target with a clever flick from Watkins releasing Canos whose weak shot was saved saved by Kiko Casilla.
Leeds probed away without really threatening and, from nothing, the Bees then came within a whisker of taking the lead in the 24th minute when Stuart Dallas was caught on the ball allowing a counter-attack from which Frenchman Mbeumo let fly from 30 yards only to see his effort crash back off the post.
Leeds hit back with Alioski and Harrison combining to work a cross for Patrick Bamford who sent his header over the bar.
Bamford was then presented with an even better chance one minute before the half-hour mark when latching on to a ball into the area from Alioski but sending a header the wrong side of the post past the onrushing Raya.
But Brentford again started to ask a few questions and Casilla had to be alert to gather a free-kick which worked its way across the face of goal after United failed to clear.
Alioski and Henrik Dalsgaard were both booked as late challenges began to fly in before Adam Forshaw headed half a chance over from the edge of the box.
But Brentford ended the half on the front foot with Casilla showing safe hands to gather a corner amidst a crowd of players before a stoppage-time counter-attack came to nothing.
Leeds were straight on the front foot after the break with two corners cleared before Raya stood firm behind an effort from Forshaw from the edge of the box.
After further Whites pressure and three more corners, Pablo Hernandez fired over the bar from the edge of the area.
Brentford were going nowhere and referee Andy Davies made a huge call, turning down United’s strong claims for a penalty after a Klich shot appeared to be blocked by an an arm with a furious Dallas booked for dissent.
Elland Road would have been even more incensed had Brentford then scored from a quick counter-attack one minute later from which Watkins fired just wide.
Bielsa then called for marquee summer signing Helder Costa, brought on for Harrison with 25 minutes left and the Portugal international was heavily involved in working an opening for Dallas who sliced over the bar.
With 13 minutes left, Bielsa then called for Arsenal loanee striker Nketiah but with Bamford left on as an off-colour Hernandez was withdrawn.
Nketiah raced on to a loose ball within one minute of coming on but saw his shot from an angle deflected back to Raya.
But just three minutes later Nkteiah fired unbeaten United into the lead and back to the top of the table with Klich releasing Costa who fired in a fierce low cross which lethal Nketiah tucked away with aplomb.
And that really was that with Brentford failing to threaten despite four minutes of added time with the energetic Nketiah popping up everywhere and making vital clearances.
Bielsa was keen for Jansson’s efforts last season to be appreciated. They were.
Leeds though look to have a new hero.
Chants of “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie” telling you all you need to know.