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What a season it has been so far for Leeds United. After arguably one of the hardest starts for any club in the Championship we find ourselves top going into the international break. Bielsa’s team have taken four points off play-off semi-finalists Middlesbrough and Derby and likewise four points against two relegated teams in Swansea and Stoke. Last out a convincing three nil victory against potential banana skin Norwich will have had the team going into the break full of confidence.
The stats read; Played 6, Won 4, Lost 0, Drawn 2, Scored 14, Conceded 3, Clean Sheets 3, Goal Difference +10. Only West Brom have scored more, only Middlesbrough have conceded less.
Our performances have been recognised with individual awards too. Pablo Hernandez securing the PFA Fan’s Player of the Month award, Kemar Roofe awarded Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month and Marcelo Bielsa winning the Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month award.
The payers on international duty also has a good couple of weeks; Stuart Dallas netted for Northern Ireland against Israel, Mateusz Klich scored against The Republic of Ireland and Ezgjan Alioski bagged himself a couple of goals against Gibraltar and Armenia. Pontus Jansson, Tyler Roberts and Bailey Peacock-Farrell also featured for their national teams.
Watch Ezgjan Alioski strike against Gibraltar on 4:20
But then it was the same last season, five wins in our first seven matches saw Thomas Christiansen’s team sitting top of the table. Then we played Millwall on the 16th September and the wheels fell off. Defeat at the New Den was the start of a run that saw eight defeats in ten games. A pattern which would be the trend for the rest of the season, aside for a brief run of wins in December.
We had been found out, teams were no longer afraid of us and at the first sign of a physical battle we folded. Discipline disappeared and a series of red cards and suspensions compounded our issues. What had started so well ended in the usual dalliance with the possibility of relegation and mid-table finish.
There is the fear, that this weekend is where it all starts to fall apart again. Fifteen years in the wilderness has left us Leeds fans a rather pessimistic bunch a lot of the time. But it does feel different this year. Bielsa has instilled a discipline and work rate in the team we have not seen for a long time. We have come through tough tests against Swansea, Middlesbrough and teams which sit back more such as Rotherham.
As one of the form sides coming into a game against a team who has lost their last three we should be confident. We have a manager and a system we can have faith in and we have proven we can come back and get results when things are not going our way. Millwall will be a different test, but it’s one I have every faith we will come through.