YEP Jury: Warning signs aplenty as Leeds United look way off the pace

Leeds United may have been missing a host of first-team regulars on Saturday but their performance in the 1-0 defeat at Southampton still left our panel of fans worried.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 6:00 am

DAVID WATKINS

I was prepared for this to be a difficult game, in fact I thought the jury was way too optimistic in mostly predicting a Leeds win.

Southampton’s opening fixtures have been tough but they’ve still managed creditable draws against the likes of Man U, Man City and West Ham.

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Southampton's Moussa Djenepo and Leeds United's Jamie Shackleton battle for the ball. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

We also knew Leeds would be going into battle with a depleted team, denuded of Bamford, Ayling, Koch, Firpo and, most importantly, Phillips and Raphinha. However, what I didn’t expect was that the players we were able to field would be so far below par.

Let’s not use injuries as a smokescreen for this defeat, these players are better than we saw on Saturday. The likes of Roberts, Rodrigo, Dallas and Klich just did not perform. They all looked way off the pace and if we don’t get our best XI fit soon, we could find ourselves in a relegation scrap. Even the players like Dan James and Jack Harrison who saw plenty of action were woefully lacking in any end product. I’m still convinced that, had we played to our best, we’d have at least come away with a point.

Man of the match: No-one stood out for me.

KEITH INGHAM

Armando Broja scores Southampton's winning goal against Leeds United on Saturday. Picture: Eddie Keogh/Getty Images.

In the season that just can’t seem to get going, there must be more than a few supporters thinking the worst. Second-season syndrome looks to be happening and a few of the more experienced players need to up their efforts.

I’ll make it short and sweet because my attention was away from events on the south coast as I was away for the weekend. By all accounts there seemed to be a problem passing the ball to each other and the lack of efforts on goal is lamentable.

The winner came in the second half from Southampton’s Broja on his first start and Leeds offered little in trying to even get a point out of the game. Maybe missing the likes of Firpo, Phillips, Bamford and Raphinha was just too much and the bench consisted of one senior professional and a bunch of promising under-23s. At least Gelhardt offered a little when he came on.

What is certain, Leeds need to improve and pretty quick. I’m not saying they’ve become a bad team overnight but a few are well behind the standard they set last season.

Leeds United fans watch their side at St Mary's Stadium Picture: Glyn Kirk/Getty Images.

Man of the match: No-one deserved it.

ANDY RHODES

Last time out against Watford, Leeds looked like a fluid side with Rodrigo replacing Patrick Bamford. This time, though, they looked lost with the further absences of Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha.

With three of the team’s most influential players missing, this was always going to be a hard afternoon. What many won’t have realised, though, was the extent to which Leeds lost their identity.

Illan Meslier collides with Stuart Dallas during Leeds United's 1-0 defeat at Southampton. Picture: Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

On social media I saw Mateusz Klich described as a “one man midfield”, Pascal Struijk looked helpless in stopping the Saints’ attacks, and Stuart Dallas’ energy was missed in midfield too.

There wasn’t much Marcelo Bielsa could do to change the game, though, with the players sitting on his bench. Joe Gelhardt made a good impression but he didn’t have much of the ball to work with.

This will go down as one of the worst performances under Marcelo Bielsa but few have come when the squad has been so depleted.

After a showing like this, don’t expect another for a while.

Man of the match: Mateusz Klich.

MIKE GILL

Adam Forshaw of Leeds United and Nathan Redmond of Southampton in action on Saturday. Picture: Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

IF Leeds don’t have the services of Ayling, Firpo, Phillips, Raphinha and Bamford then they lose 1-0 away from home. Understandable? Well no, not really.

The performance in the first half was strong if desperate defensively and almost non-existent offensively. Ironically the attack was having one of their best spells early in the second half when Southampton sailed through the United rearguard and scored the only goal of the game.

Dan James and Jack Harrison had their moments but once again, the final touch deserted them.

Patrick Bamford provides muscle as well as skill up front and it is the muscle that is missing. Rodrigo and Tyler Roberts do not contribute any aggression whatsoever but maybe Joe Gelhardt could. Although he only had a brief cameo it is clear that he will not be pushed off the ball easily and surely now deserves a start if only to shuffle the cards a bit.

Hopefully next Saturday we should be able to field a much stronger team but it’s going to be a long week!

Man of the match: Liam Cooper.

JACOB STARR

A Leeds United performance that failed to produce a shot on target or any points. Not what was desired or required on the south coast.

It was arguably one of the worst first-half displays under Marcelo Bielsa’s guidance, and although the result was only 1-0, it didn’t really reflect the balance of the contest in the Saints’ favour.

Raphinha’s special performance for Brazil only a couple of days ago came at a cost, that he would not be ready to feature at St Mary’s.

Neither would the trio of Kalvin Phillips, Patrick Bamford and Junior Firpo, all of whom have knocks.

So the teamsheet didn’t make for ideal reading when it was announced at 2pm.

That is the worry though, that without those key players, this side tends to struggle. And against teams like Southampton, who will most likely be lower mid-table come the end of the season, we have to be more competitive.

Whilst points aren’t being picked up regularly, every game is becoming more and more pivotal.

The Whites sit 17th with only six points from the 24 available.

Man of the match: Jamie Shackleton.