West Brom 4 Leeds United 1: The final word - Scoring first, Bailey Peacock-Farrell and was Bielsa right to take the blame?

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Leeds United fell to a resounding 4-1 defeat to West Brom on Saturday evening at The Hawthorns in the Championship - but what were the key talking points? We have the final word on the weekend action.

Was Marcelo Bielsa right to take the blame?

West Brom 4 Leeds United 1.

West Brom 4 Leeds United 1.

“I feel responsible for this loss,” Bielsa said following the heavy defeat as he sat stunned during his post-match debrief.

The Argentine often throws himself into the middle of the road whilst the bus hurtling down the street is carrying a return of zero points but to absolve his Whites squad of any blame at The Hawthorns would be disingenuous.

A mix of individual mistakes, poor goalkeeping and a general lack of discipline led to the concession of four goals that were all seemingly avoidable. By the time Dwight Gayle embarrassingly back-heeled home the rout was complete with United's players all left to ponder where exactly it had gone wrong - it wasn't pretty even on second viewing.

There was none of the free-flowing attacking play that Leeds fans have grown to know and love under El Loco at Elland Road as the Baggies deployed tactics that nullified any threat of United breaking them down in the opening 45 minutes.

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After the second half Bielsa was left on his haunches in the technical area having watched the best attacking side in the division, his own words, tear his team apart with ease.

Despite boasting 72 per cent possession Leeds mustered only three shots on target. Albion had six and were simply clinical in front of goal.

Bielsa though, despite knowing what was heading his way, set his side out just as he did at Wigan six days earlier. This time the performance was littered with individual mistakes and defensive frailty, something we are not accustomed to under this regime at Elland Road.

You'd have to go back to the final weekend of September to find the last goal Leeds conceded from open play and even then you could excuse Adam Reach's left foot. By 9pm on Saturday night Bielsa had seen his side ship four in the space of 32 second half minutes.

The 63-year-old rarely troubles himself over how the opposition set out to play deciding instead to focus on what he can control with Leeds. Simply, his players didn't execute his game plan.

"It was essential not to lose the ball playing out," Bielsa admitted afterwards.

Too many stray passes and loose touches in midfield before United had even glided their way past the first line of defence with their usual grace led to Albion breaking with deadly precision.

Darren Moore's game plan from the outset was to press Leeds high and utilise the pace of his front men and it was executed to perfection.

There were too many players off colour on a night when they needed to be at their rainbow coloured Bielsa ball best. Stuart Dallas, Bailey Peacock-Farrell and Mateusz Klich were just three of those who made glaring errors during United's demise.

West Brom 4 Leeds United 1: Blame me not the players, says Marcelo Bielsa

A bad workman blames his tools, Bielsa instead chose to blame himself. A mix of both is probably the fairest conclusion of all. Barry Douglas described the evening as a "wake up call" and that it was. Although his substitution was ponderous.

Bielsa, who works his tight-knit squad into the ground, would've had every right to call out his players afterwards but it's not his style. Even if sometimes it's needed. United were bullied like we've never seen before this season, a shock maybe even for someone who has quite literally seen everything in football.

Now come the questions.

Will United deviate from their style of play? Not a chance. Bielsa has 'plan a' and 'plan a' only. You can bet we'll see it against Bristol City in two weeks time.

Do Leeds need to score first?

Since the opening international break of the season in September the Whites have bagged first just three times in 11 Championship outings. Bielsa's men have won four of those, including a comeback win over Wigan Athletic at the DW stadium, but it is a trend which won't please the Argentine head coach.

Of course the opening goal in any football match is of vast importance and as the great Howard Wilkinson once said, "I am a firm believer that if you score one goal the other team have to score two to win."

United's issue though has been breaking teams down and finding their shooting boots in front of goal in recent months. In Bielsa's style of play giving the opposition a head start appears to be even more unforgiving due to the free-flowing style and reliance on a high percentage of possession.

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Teams sit in, soak up pressure and deploy 'gamesmanship' tactics as it has become know to break United's flow.

Hull City, Preston North End and Ipswich Town are the three sides the Whites have managed to break the last line of defence first - a list that is perhaps more damning after a glance at the Championship table.

Is Bailey Peacock-Farrell becoming a problem?

Criticism of the 21-year-old goalkeeper has been bubbling for some time. Soft goals against Swansea City and Birmingham City added to the growing pressure but a visit to The Hawthorns seems to have finally brought the issue to the fore.

United's young stopper, it would only be fair to say, has made a number of crucial saves this season but as the last line of defence you are always remembered for your mistakes.

The second goal against West Brom was poor by any standard and a mediocre clearance that ended up resulting in the third added fuel to the growing fire.

Chelsea loanee Jamal Blackman is waiting in the wings having joined the club on a season-long loan in the summer and has impressed with his shot stopping ability in the under-23s of late.

The 25-year-old's footwork in Bielsa's style of play has left a lot to be desired in his performances for the development squad but it feels, much like last season, that the goalkeeping position could soon become a problem that Leeds could do without.

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A strong defensive record has kept the wolves at bay and dropping Peacock-Farrell would be a major decision should Bielsa decide to make it. The staunch defence of his number one afterwards on Saturday evening suggests no immediate change is incoming but more mistakes in the coming weeks and the pressure will really begin to mount.

A long time to dwell... so what now? A squad friendly awaits

“We have a group of players who will stay at the club. And we will take care of them. Especially we will pay a lot of attention to those that don’t play regularly," Bielsa said of the international break last week.

“In the middle of next week we will play a game against the under-23s and we will try to make it as if it is an official game. This game will allow the players to develop the fitness of the players who don’t play a lot.”

If there is such a perfect time for a two-week rest period for United then perhaps this is it. Bielsa will take stock and a squad friendly will hand him the chance to test out new ideas and take a look at those players on the edge of his squad.

Jamal Blackman, Lewis Baker and Jack Harrison are just three that offer different options to his starting 11 and have yet to leave any real mark on the season. One thing is for sure, Bielsa will be working hard to right the wrongs of a resounding defeat at The Hawthorns with the visit of Bristol City firmly in his sights.