Nestled in the automatic promotion places, Sheffield Wednesday having done us a favour last night, lets reminisce about last Friday and just how good that attacking performance against West Brom was. There was a grace an elegance about our attacking play, the early goal was crucial in setting the tone, you can bet your life that without it we would have seen West Brom do what they did against us at The Hawthorns, sit deep, look for breaks. Scoring early meant they couldn't, they were forced to try and compete, couldn't sit back, gaps opened up and we swept through them.
The frustration of games gone by was gone, our players were free to play, no passing for the sake of it, no crosses out of frustration. We passed with purpose, sometimes switching play from left to right where Alioski and Harrison had great joy. Sometimes it was little triangles between Bamford, Klich and Roberts.
It was a coming of age performance for Tyler Roberts and Jack Harrison. Harrison carried the ball at pace on numerous occasions, dragging the Baggies players back, exploiting space, linking with his teammates. Roberts put in the best performance by a Leeds number 10 all season, his skill and dribbling caused West Brom no end of problems, the touch to put Bamford in for his first and the run for his second were top draw and something we have lacked since Samu Saiz left.
Video courtesy of @LUFC_Goals
Hernandez started us on the way with a strike of quality, his intelligence is a class apart. He has misplaced a few but a lot of the time it’s because either his teammates haven’t seen it or Pablo is trying to do the difficult pass to help us score, it’s easy to take the easy route, Pablo doesn’t, that should be admired. In midfield Mateusz Klich was awesome again, the calmest man on the field, 88% pass completion for Klich in a frantic game. He didn't get an assist, but he was crucial in the build-up for two of the goals, he is so calm and composed but equally very hard working.
Finally Patrick Bamford, who knew this well-spoken young man was as strong as an ox, he held off the centre back for his first for what seemed an eternity, he swatted that West Brom defender aside for his second, and in the build-up for the fourth goal he held his ground on the line and calmly did a drag back and flick to take a few West Brom players out of the game, superb. 4 shots, 2 goals, is he finally match fit?
But what West Brom struggled with most of all was our flexibility, it was amazing at times, a defenders nightmare. If at the start of the game you have a man to mark, how do you mark them if they keep moving to another area of the pitch, out of your comfort zone?
Patrick Bamford and Tyler Roberts were doing it all game. Bamford clearly likes to get involved in the build-up more than Roofe, but that only works if someone else takes his striking role, Roberts did. The centre backs didn’t know whether to follow Bamford or pass him on and pick up Roberts. If they did follow that left space, if they didn’t then we had an overload in midfield.
And it wasn’t just those two. At times we had Bamford right wing, Hernandez at ten, Roberts up top, or we even had Bamford at ten, Hernandez centre midfield, Roberts right side and Klich up top, Ali appeared up front at times, it must have been a nightmare for West Brom. It showed why teams refuse to come out against us. But Friday felt turning point for some of our players, the performance should give them the confidence that they will be able to break teams down even if they sit back.
Bamford's strength and movement will create space, Roberts willingness to drive at teams through the middle of the pitch and Harrisons seeming new found confidence with the ball at his feet are all weapons we haven’t really had this season. With Jack Clarke back in full training and of course Izzy Brown and Kemar Roofe to return soon we have the attacking players to adapt to any challenge.
Content by Cjay from our Attacking Play discussion thread.
Leeds United's attacking play against West Brom a joy to behold