Nottingham Forest 4 Leeds United 2 - the final word: Defensive woes, the unfamiliar feeling of defeat and is rest now required with rivals stuttering?

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Leeds United fell to back-to-back defeats for the first time under Marcelo Bielsa with a 4-2 defeat to Nottingham Forest on New Year's Day.

What were the key talking points from the City Ground? Joe Urquhart takes a look...

Leeds United's players at the final whistle at the City Ground.

Leeds United's players at the final whistle at the City Ground.

Defensive woes

Leeds United's backbone this season has been their defensive solidarity.

Ahead of the festive period the Whites had conceded just 18 goals in 22 games - one of the best defensive records in the Championship.

Following a hectic Christmas period in which Bielsa's men faced Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Hull City and Nottingham Forest the figure stands at 10 conceded in their last four games.

United have had to deal with a number of injuries meaning the likes of Kalvin Phillips have had to step into unfamiliar territory at the back.

Leeds' recent frailty in defence saw United fall to back-to-back defeat at the hands of Hull and Forest, while two improbable comeback victories over Villa and Rovers saw Bielsa's men get themselves out of jail and paper somewhat over the cracks.

The return of Liam Cooper in the coming weeks will help United's cause in shoring things up, especially following Phillips straight red card at the City Ground, but Bielsa has pinpointed set-pieces as an area his side needs to improve.

"If you take out the goals that were scored from set-pieces, we are the team that concedes the least goals in actions," said Bielsa.

"Obviously, set-pieces are part of the defensive actions. We can’t hide the fact that we are lacking good headers like Berardi and Cooper."

Barry Douglas himself admitted his performance level had dropped in recent games, while Luke Ayling has also struggled to re-find his early season form since returning from injury.

The Argentine has also ruled out a move for any incoming defensive back up in the January window believing his options in his squad are more than capable to turn things around.

That unfamiliar losing feeling - but Bielsa sticks to his guns

Two defeats in four days... what is this feeling?

In the 145 days of the season prior to the Whites home defeat to Hull City just three league losses had been felt under Bielsa's watch - a tip of the hat to the standards set at Thorp Arch.

As the Whites turned the fixture on its head at the City Ground, albeit briefly, United dared to dream about a third Christmas miracle following two incredible comebacks against Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers.

The seven minutes of madness at Nottingham Forest ensued as Bielsa stuck to his guns of attacking play - something the Argentine believes he will never deviate from: "The fact we dared to play, sometimes it has negative aspects like today, but it also gives us a style we should be faithful to."

United dominated the majority of the City Ground clash, despite going down to 10-men, but were caught short at the back in a frantic spell. Bielsa has always insisted that his style of attacking football may lead to entertaining defeats and his point was on show on New Year's Day.

Rest required?

Four games in 10 days... with one change to the starting line-up.

United's style of play and high press means Bielsa's tactics demand a lot from his squad and following a busy festive period United can now enjoy a 10 day rest from Championship action.

Leeds take on Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road this coming weekend in the FA Cup which could see Bielsa opt to make wholesale changes and give his starting crop a much-needed rest ahead of a crunch clash against Derby County at Elland Road on January 11.

Phillips banned and Clarke's impact (again)

Following Kalvin Phillips' straight red card against Nottingham Forest he will now miss the trip to QPR in the FA Cup followed by Championship fixtures against Derby County and Stoke City.

The 23-year-old has been one of United's standout performers this season although has seen his effectiveness drop in recent weeks after moving back into defence from his usual deep lying role in midfield following a number of injuries.

United will be hoping that club captain Liam Cooper will be fit enough to face Frank Lampard's side next week in his absence with Leeds extremely short of centre-back options with Aapo Halme another player Bielsa could call upon.

Jack Clarke once again gave the 63-year-old food for thought with another major impact in the midlands.

The 18-year-old stepped off the bench to level up the scoreline in place of Jack Harrison, similarly to his cameo at Villa Park, and proved a thorn in the Forest side - a first start cannot be far away for the Thorp Arch academy product.

Championship rivals stuttering too

United's back-to-back defeats were helped by the loss of form from several promotion rivals over the festive period.

Norwich City and West Brom also dropped points over the cramped fixture pile up with Leeds retaining a two point gap over the second-placed Canaries and a four point gap over Sheffield United, who made up ground, in third.

West Brom sit a point further back in fourth.