AFTER seeing Leeds United held to a goalless draw against Championship visitors Nottingham Forest, the YEP’s Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from the Elland Road clash on New Year’s Day.
Luke Ayling’s injury
Ayling has been one of United’s biggest success stories since joining from Bristol City in August 2016 and the 26-year-old has made the Whites right back spot his own.
But it was pretty clear that the defender would have to be substituted after receiving a knock early in the first half, leading to the introduction of Vurnon Anita from the bench as Gaetano Berardi switched to right back.
Berardi is actually better suited to playing at right back and Anita is no stranger to playing at left back but Ayling offers United plenty of endeavour going forwards and Leeds will clearly want one of their best players back as soon as possible.
Whites head coach Thomas Christinasen was unsure as to the extent of Ayling’s injury in the game’s aftermath, but hoped the damage was minimal, saying only that Ayling had received “a kick.”
But Ronaldo Vieira’s injury at Burton Albion on Boxing Day was described as “a knock” and the teenager has missed United’s last two games.
Ayling, though, took to his Instagram page on Monday evening to post an encouraging update.
“Not the way I wanted to start 2018 but ankle is okay nothing serious” he said.
A quick return for both Vieira and Ayling would be welcomed with open arms though Leeds at least now have nearly two weeks until their next league game at Ipswich Town.
Prior to that, plenty of changes can be expected for Sunday’s third round FA Cup tie at Newport County.
If fit, Saiz has to be the first name on the team sheet for Leeds and more to the point, United need to get to a situation where they are making the most of the Spaniard’s talents by finishing the chances he is creating.Lee Sobot
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Goals win games and who is going to get them?
A dominant Leeds quite clearly should have beaten Forest and United would have been celebrating a victory with better finishing in front of goal.
Lone striker Kemar Roofe had a particularly frustrating afternoon and the 24-year-old has still only scored one league goal at Elland Road this term with seven having come on his travels. Capable, but frustrating.
But Pierre-Michel Lasogga was also guilty of squandering decent chances after he came on in the lone striker role and United’s other main forward, Caleb Ekuban, is injured.
Put simply, goals win games and while Christiansen was pleased with his side’s performance, United can ill afford to throw away points with such wastefulness in front of goal.
Essentially, last season’s 30-goal striker Chris Wood has still not been properly replaced and the need to recruit another new striker in January is obvious.
It could be the difference between going up or not.
Leeds have already wasted a very good opportunity to close the gap to the automatic promotion places and six very achievable points from their last two games at Birmingham City and at home to Forest would have put them third and just a point behind second-placed Derby County.
Instead the Whites are sixth with seventh-placed Sheffield United, eighth-placed Middlesbrough and ninth-placed Preston North End all within three points.
Still a very respectable position and a decent platform to build on but that now needs to happen.
United’s Lionel Messi
Samu Saiz finally returned to the No 10 position following his recent spell on the sidelines with a calf injury after starting Saturday’s clash at Birmingham City from the bench.
But if fit, Saiz has to be the first name on the team sheet for Leeds and more to the point, United need to get to a situation where they are making the most of the Spaniard’s talents by finishing the chances he is creating.
Saiz’s pace, skill, control, balance and vision are all a joy to witness and Christiansen was not surprisingly asked if he was braced for interest in the 26-year-old in the January window.
“He is not on sale. If he is on sale I believe that he must be as expensive as Messi,” quipped the Dane.
Not quite, but comparatively speaking United need to keep their Messi and add a Luis Suarez to the mix to.