Leeds United defeated Forest Green Rovers 2-1 at the New Lawn yesterday. Goals from Kemar Roofe and Luke Ayling proved enough for a win in Marcelo Bielsa’s first game in charge of the West Yorkshire side.
So what did we learn about Leeds from this clash?
Here are three things…
Tactics and full-backs
A lot of talk before the game was about the formation. Were Leeds going to play three at the back? Well, they did and they didn’t. Without possession, they were a flat back four. Ayling, Gaetano Berardi, Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas reverting to type.
But in possession, it was a different story. Kalvin Phillips would drop in from holding midfield, with Cooper and Berardi splitting beside him. It allowed Ayling and Dallas to push right up as wingers and Forest Green could not handle the system.
It allowed Samuel Saiz, Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe to float around in attack and it was a joy to watch.
However, here comes some bad news. The system did leave Leeds open to the counter-attack.
Forest Green’s goal came after a quick transition. At one moment it seemed Leeds would break, but a lunging tackle sent the League Two side away for a goal.
When on the attack it is easy to see how Leeds might be caught out quickly by teams if dispossessed.
But it is the first time they have played the system, so with time, such troubles may get ironed out.
New signings needed
As good as Leeds were it is clear they still need new signings. The depth was not present and some players, especially the two central-defenders, will be caught out during the 46-game Championship season.
Leeds must ensure they bring in some new faces and soon. The template is there, the tactics look great and pre-season has them in great shape. But Leeds need to give Bielsa new faces to work with.
Leeds United’s Massimo Cellino flop Lee Erwin to embark on Iranian adventure
The Scottish striker has joined Tractor Sazi in Iran.
Back in the summer of 2015, Leeds United snapped up promising young Scottish forward Lee Erwin on a free transfer from Motherwell. It was a move spearheaded by then Leeds chairman Massimo Cellino, who worked hard to bring the Scot to Elland Road.
However, it did not work out for the attacker. He played just 12 times for Leeds and failed to score a single goal. Loan spells at Bury and Oldham Athletic were mixed and last summer he was told he could leave by Thomas Christiansen.
Erwin headed back to Scotland with Kilmarnock, scoring seven times in 40 games for the club. However, one year after being given the boot by Leeds, the 23-year-old is now treading a much lesser known path.
Delighted to sign for Tractor sazi , Cant wait to get started on this exciting new chapter ?? ? pic.twitter.com/9N6QrYezHK
— Lee Erwin (@LeeErwin19) August 14, 2018
As confirmed yesterday, he has joined Iranian side Tractor Sazi. The club are managed by Welsh legend John Toshack. He is also not alone in having British football experience. Former Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah, Celtic striker Anthony Stokes and Rangers winger Harry Forrester joined the club this summer.
Leeds United fans will not have many fond memories of Erwin. He barely made any noticeable impact at Elland Road.
But fans will no doubt wish him all the best in his brave new adventure.
Some Leeds United fans are raving over Samuel Saiz’s League Cup display
Leeds United have won a third game in a row under the management of Marcelo Bielsa. The Argentine made plenty of changes to his starting XI for the clash with Bolton Wanderers, but they still proved too strong for the Trotters.
There were some excellent performances on the night for Leeds fans to get excited about. Patrick Bamford scored his first goal for the club. Jamie Shackleton had an excellent evening in only his second senior appearance. Lewis Baker also had a good game in the centre of midfield. But it was perhaps Samuel Saiz who caught the eye the most.
The Spanish wizard was sensational, as always, throughout the game and fully deserved his goal. His trickery left Bolton’s defence bamboozled before a low drive beat Remi Matthews in the opposing goal.
Leeds fans were, of course, delighted with yet another display of excellence from Saiz, who was linked with La Liga sides this summer.
It was perhaps a testament to his excellent display and the esteem he is held in that Leeds fans are so concerned that he briefly clutched his hamstring whilst leaving the field of play.
Fans will hope he is fighting fit for the all-Yorkshire clash with Rotherham United at the weekend.
Here is some of the best reaction to his performance on Twitter…
— MoscowhiteTSB (@MoscowhiteTSB) August 14, 2018
— Emmo Lambe (@EmmoLambe) August 14, 2018
Saiz is different class isn’t he.. #lufc
— Anthony Ward (@AnthonyWard10) August 14, 2018
Samu Saiz is a freak of nature #lufc
— Tariq Jabbar (@TariqJabbar80) August 14, 2018
— Steve Gunn (@SteveGunn11) August 14, 2018
— Paul Milner (@paulmilner365) August 14, 2018
When SAIZ turns up the lad is untouchable ? #lufc
— paul kelly (@paulie_lufc) August 14, 2018
Another Saiz masterclass, he’s on another level #lufc
— Tom Randerson (@TomR_FI) August 14, 2018
Saiz on form the best player in this league by an absolute street. Very few players even at the top end can do what he does ? #lufc
— ?? Kevin Power ?? (@kevinpower93) August 14, 2018
Samuel Saiz could walk into most prem teams #LUFC
— Nathan Styran (@nathanstyran) August 14, 2018
Linked with Leeds United this summer, Baghdad Bounedjah scores 10 goals in just two games
The Algerian striker has been in impeccable form since being linked with Leeds United.
As Leeds searched for a new striker this summer plenty of names came flying out of the transfer rumour mill. Must of them, were known to Leeds fans. Others, on the other hand, were lesser known. One such player was Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah.
He is currently plying his trade for Al Sadd in Qatar. The front-man has been in fine form in the Stars League, scoring 25 goals in 19 games last season.
Despite Leeds’ apparent interest, a move soon dissipated with news of his price-tag. Algerian source L’Expression were suggesting that the cash-rich Qatari side wanted €15 million (£13.25 million) for the attacker in order to let him go this summer.
Considering that was more than Leeds were ready to pay for Matej Vydra and eventual recruit Patrick Bamford, it is easy to see why a deal did not happen.
But, judging by his early form this season, Leeds might have wanted to stump up. Bounedjah has scored an incredible 10 goals in just two games.
After bagging a hat-trick in the opening game of the Stars League against Al Kharitiyath a week ago he scored an unbelievable seven times in a 10-1 win against Al Arabi on Sunday.
If you include the club’s final pre-season clash with NK Krka of Slovenia his record is even more outstanding. He scored five times in an 8-1 win. That makes 15 goals in his last three games.
Of course, the Qatari Stars League is not the highest of standards. But at any level, 10 goals in two games is enough to suggest an element of quality. Such form has attracted the interest of Turkish side Fenerbahce, according to Sabah.
Leeds were still right to balk at the asking price considering his lack of European experience. But it could prove to be a costly mistake if he does replicate his form in the Middle East on the continent.
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