AFTER seeing Leeds United fall to back to back defeats for the first time since August and September, Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Cardiff City.
Should the Whites play another attacking midfielder or two upfront?
United created chances against Cardiff but the Whites were hardly banging the door down and it was one of those days where the gut feeling was that the writing was on the wall as soon as the Bluebirds went 2-0 up.
But there seemed to be too much onus on no 10 playmaker Pablo Hernandez to carve Cardiff open and create chances for 21-goal top scorer Chris Wood. As usual, Leeds started with two defensive midfielders sat in front of the back four in captain Liam Bridcutt and Ronaldo Vieira but both had poor games and Cardiff - who initially sat back - had United’s formation sussed. Monk said afterwards that he expects other teams to now attempt to deploy the same tactics as the Bluebirds did. But if other teams are going to try something different then maybe Leeds should too - perhaps by playing just the one defensive midfielder and in any case Bridcutt is now suspended for Tuesday’s game against the Robins having been sent off. Playing the one defensive midfielder would give Leeds the option of either playing another attacking influence in support of Hernandez or another striker alongside Wood upfront.
Who should start out wide?
There was plenty of excitement about Spanish under-21 winger Alfonso Pedraza’s full and home Leeds debut out wide but the 20-year-old looked a bit lost at times and will probably take time to adapt to Championship football. Pedraza was swapped for Kemar Roofe in the second half and Roofe went on to cause Cardiff the most problems.
Stuart Dallas started on the other flank and did okay without exactly having a blinder. Dallas was taken off for Hadi Sacko just after the hour but Sacko struggled to get going too. Fellow winger Mo Barrow, signed on deadline day on loan from Swansea City, failed to even come off the bench. Monk certainly has plenty of options out wide and will surely try something different against Bristol City and on Saturday’s evidence Roofe has to start. Leeds, who are fifth, badly need to beat the Robins as sixth-placed Sheffield Wednesday plus seventh-placed Norwich City and to a lesser degree eighth-placed Derby County are breathing down their necks.
Is it time for a defensive shuffle?
Leeds were left rocked by the news that Pontus Jansson would miss Saturday’s clash through illness, causing Whites head coach Garry Monk to name Liam Cooper alongside Kyle Bartley at centre-back. But United’s defence looked all at sea against a Cardiff side who are normally hardly the most prolific. United are clearly short on centre-backs and Jansson already looks likely to miss Tuesday night’s home clash against Bristol City who offer a potent attacking threat with Tammy Abraham and Matty Taylor. But Luke Ayling can also play at centre-back and there have been plenty of calls from fans for Ayling to partner Bartley against the Robins though Monk has always declared his full faith in Cooper and the likelihood is that United’s head coach will leave the back five as it is, assuming Jansson does not make it.