'Not working' - Micah Richards praises Leeds United efforts but uses staggering statistic to highlight root of defensive woes

Micah Richards has hailed Leeds United's efforts against West Ham but outlined why he believes the team's defensive strategy is not working.

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 3:15 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th September 2021, 3:16 pm

Leeds are still awaiting their first victory of the new Premier League season but were on course to change that after Raphinha fired the Whites into a 19th-minute lead against Saturday's visitors West Ham.

Brazilian winger Raphinha was then denied a second goal when a similar strike hit the post whilst Stuart Dallas was denied by a fine save from Lukas Fabianski.

Mateusz Klich then missed a glorious chance to double United's lead but Whites stopper Illan Meslier had earlier produced some smart saves to keep out the Hammers who eventually equalised when Jarrod Bowen's strike deflected in off Junior Firpo in the 67th minute.

Sign up to our Leeds United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

CONCERNS: Highlighted by former England right back and now Match Of The Day pundit Micah Richards. Picture by John Walton/PA Wire.

The Hammers then finished the game firmly on the front foot and bagged a 90th-minute winner after pouncing through a counter attack from which Declan Rice played in Michail Antonio to net his fifth goal of the campaign.

Match Of The Day pundit Richards acknowledged how Leeds were without four key defensive players in injured trio Luke Ayling, Robin Koch and Diego Llorente plus the suspended Pascal Struijk and particularly hailed the display of 19-year-old Charlie Cresswell on his league debut.

Former England right back Richards also praised the saves of Meslier but highlighted how Leeds have now received the most shots in the division of any team after six games and particularly questioned Junior Firpo's positioning at left back.

The Whites have faced 112 shots in just six games so far, four more than Newcastle United, ten more than Burnley and 15 more than bottom of the table Norwich City.

"Leeds did have some injuries," said Richards on Match Of The Day.

"They had Struijk out, Llorente, Koch and Ayling.

"Charlie Cresswell had a really good game but as a unit it's just not working.

"Firpo is playing left back and he's going one on one (on Fornals).

"We know Leeds like to do the one on one all over the pitch.

"But he stays there (for the opening goal), he leaves massive space, Phillips goes out and Bowen is by himself.

"Cooper doesn't want to be isolated one versus one out there but he (Firpo) tries to get in a position and he ends up just getting an own goal. He's not doing anything there really.

"Later on in the game they have got eight players forward, gambling, when sometimes you just have to see out a result.

"They are almost shooting themselves in the foot every single time.

"They get a warning from Antonio but they have got to come up with better quality throughout the season.

"On one occasion they got lucky, they managed to get back but not the next time.

"Antonio starts it again, Leeds are not strong enough to win it in midfield and you just look at the amount of space Declan Rice has got, he keeps going and going.

"Young Shackleton makes a decision to go and Antonio, in the form that he is in, was always going to score.

"Leeds played so well and Meslier was excellent.

"They faced all these shots, the most in the Premier League (112 in six games) and inevitably you are going to concede goals if you play like that."

A message from the Editor:

Leeds has a fantastic story to tell - and the Yorkshire Evening Post has been rooted firmly at the heart of telling the stories of our city since 1890.

We believe in ourselves and hope you believe in us too. We need your support to help ensure we can continue to be at the heart of life in Leeds.

Subscribe to our website and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app.

With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

Click here to subscribe.

For more details on our newspaper subscription offers click here.

Thank you Laura Collins