Tones of Jack Grealish - spotlight on Dan James display against Watford which has Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa facing tough decision

Dan James was handed his third Leeds United league start as Jack Harrison stayed on the bench against Watford and produced a fine display in a 1-0 victory.

Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 12:44 pm

Regular starter Harrison returned from testing positive for coronavirus when replacing James at the half-time interval of last weekend's 2-1 defeat at home to West Ham.

But Marcelo Bielsa opted to stick with summer recruit James on the left wing against the Hornets, the Whites head coach revealing afterwards that Harrison had "an important pain in his obliques" and that he would only be used if it was essential.

It meant the stage was set for James and the 23-year-old responded with an excellent display in which his pressing and pace caused chaos.

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HANDFUL: Leeds United winger Dan James, left, caused Watford all sorts of bother in Saturday's clash at Elland Road, Juraj Kucka looking to tackle the Wales international, above. Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images.

James had his first touch after just three seconds but the fact that he was tackled by Ismaila Sarr did not prove a sign of what was in store.

The Wales international took a few minutes to get going but threatened for the first time in the eighth minute when cutting in from the left and seeing a shot blocked.

Extremely quick pressing of the Hornets back line then forced an error which led to a chance for Stuart Dallas whose effort in the tenth minute was blocked and James was in again one minute later only to handle the ball.

James continually hugged the left touchline, looking to create the maximum amount of space and his side bagged the only goal of the game in the 18th minute when Diego Llorente netted from a Raphinha corner.

Two minutes later, James was then furious as referee Simon Hooper failed to award him a penalty after being charged off the ball by William Ekong as he looked to latch on to a Rodrigo through ball.

But James continued to cause problems and two good crosses from the left were cleared, the second after a blistering burst of pace.

More good pressing then led to a terrible Watford back pass that led to a corner and the last act of the half for James saw him win the ball on the left and square to Stuart Dallas to start a move that led to Raphinha curling over.

James always looked likely to stay on for the second half after his impressive display in the opening 45 minutes and the winger quickly started where he left off.

The 23-year-old won several free kicks due to his pace and skill and saw a shot blocked in the 50th minute after good link up play with Junior Firpo.

One minute later, James produced a lovely piece of play to ghost past three men from the left, only to see his cross gathered by Ben Foster.

The winger then had the Hornets in knots in the 59th minute when about to race clear following a Firpo pass only to be pulled back by Kiko Femenia who was booked.

A rare mistake presented itself in the 64th minute as James lost the ball in the middle of the park but more impressive play followed as Sarr was this time skinned and was forced to foul the Whites ace which also earned him a booking.

James was fast becoming a Leeds version of Jack Grealish in being continually brought down and the summer signing almost pulled off a lovely turn in the touchline in the 67th minute.

Soon after, he and Raphinha swapped sides and James was slightly less effective on the right despite trying to link up with Jamie Shackleton but James threatened twice more in the closing stages.

After getting into a good position, another cross was overhit by James as part of a display in which the majority of his deliveries threatened but without quite making their mark.

Seconds later, the winger was again sent tumbling in the area to no avail but there is no doubt that Watford will be glad to see the back of him.

The winger played a big part in victory overall and Bielsa now has a tough decision to make in who to start on the opposite flank to Raphinha, James now in pole position after a fine display hassling the Hornets.

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Thank you Laura Collins