Leeds United: Left back conundrum, a partner for Forshaw and the Elland Road grass - Talking Points

PERFECT RESPONSE: From Leeds United captain Liam Cooper, pictured right, celebrating the only goal of the game with Gjanni Alioski, centre, and Gaetano Berardi.
PERFECT RESPONSE: From Leeds United captain Liam Cooper, pictured right, celebrating the only goal of the game with Gjanni Alioski, centre, and Gaetano Berardi.
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AFTER seeing Leeds United cut Brentford down to size, the YEP’s Lee Sobot pitches in with a few key talking points from Saturday’s 1-0 success at Elland Road.

Who should start at left back?

January recruit Laurens De Bock was left out of the match-day 18 altogether following his very disappointing display in Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw at Derby County with Vurnon Anita taking his place and Tyler Denton the left back option on the bench.

Whites head coach Paul Heckingbottom said Denton was named on the bench over De Bock to make sure Leeds met their quota of homegrown players.

It looked a good shout giving Anita a go as the Dutchman had a fairly good game at right back against Bristol City last weekend with Gaetano Berardi still banned and Anita is clearly versatile but the 28-year-old was given all sorts of bother by Florian Jozefzoon on Saturday, particularly in the first half.

Anita is not a natural left back and it is only hoped that De Bock’s display against Derby will prove a one-off.

Credit, though, to skipper and centre back Liam Cooper who copped plenty of flak for his display in the 2-2 draw at Derby with plenty of calls for him to be dropped for Matthew Pennington.

Cooper kept his place and clearly played an integral role at both ends of the pitch in helping United gain a crucial three points.

The excellent save made by ‘keeper Felix Wiedwald to keep out John Egan’s thunderbolt volley also needs highlighting and for all that the German is evidently prone to big errors, that was still Wiedwald’s 12th clean sheet of the campaign.

O’Kane, Phillips or Vieira next to Forshaw?

Anita is naturally a centre midfielder and there is an argument that the Dutchman should be given a go in his natural position.

But at present Adam Forshaw, Eunan O’Kane, Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira appear to be contesting a four-runner race for two centre midfield spots in front of the Whites back four.

Forshaw has looked a class act since joining from Middlesbrough in January but missed the Bees clash after his wife went into labour.

He will soon return to the Whites midfield and with the former Everton youngster looking first choice in that department at present, Heckingbottom will need to decide who is best suited to partnering Forshaw though the head coach can always rotate game to game.

Phillips and O’Kane were given the nod against Brentford and both players got stuck in but neither really excelled with the ball.

How long will Hernandez and Roofe be out for?

Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe both missed Saturday’s clash due to knocks picked up during Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw at Derby County and it always looked like being an uphill battle for Hernandez to recover that quickly from a groin injury.

But Heckingbottom revealed in his post match press conference that both Roofe and Hernandez now need scans on muscle injuries.

But at least the Whites now have Samu Saiz back in the groove and Gjanni Alioski has also looked much more like the player United need in his last two games.

He clearly plays better with Saiz around.

Stuart Dallas also put in another very good shift on the other flank and at present the wing slots are for Dallas and Alioski to keep with both helping Saiz create opportunities for Pierre-Michel Lasogga who again also impressed.

Dean Smith and Oliver Langford

Both the Brentford boss and Saturday’s match official need highlighting with Smith’s bizarre claim that the Elland Road grass was too long clearly the talk of the town.

Bravo to United’s social media team for posting a photograph of three lawn mowers alongside the caption “well played lads” after they were alerted to Smith’s views.

That came in response to a Tweet from the official Brentford account moaning about the WIFI.

“Apologies for the lack of updates so far, you’d have thought at £44 a ticket, the WIFI might work.”

“That will be the grass” quipped the YEP’s Phil Hay in response to BBC Radio Leeds ace Adam Pope admitting that the WIFI on the gantry was a “2/10.”

Fun and games all over the shop and Smith also had a pop at Langford and the match officials, arguing that Cooper’s goal was offside and that the Bees should have had a penalty for a push on Neal Maupay.

Smith also questioned Langford’s display, saying he should have let the Elland Road crowd referee the game which was an odd thing to say as the majority of decisions actually seemed to go against the Whites.

The two occassions when Langford failed to play on and hand United the advantage after shirt pulls on Saiz were particularly baffling and the Championship needs better refereeing than that with Lasogga denied a one-on-one in the first instance.

The referee was poor and we can all agree with Smith on that.