Forget about Bielsa Ball, Saturday was an exhibition of Smother Ball. Leeds United let the ball do most of the work, and Stoke exhausted themselves chasing shadows. The Potters had no place to go, running into dead ends, hardly a shot on target. Suffocation, at its best. It was as though a big heavy wet wool blanket had been thrown over the Stoke team, hampering every movement. It is not a good feeling to be gasping for air and being unable to breath.
Stoke were lost in the jungle undergrowth with vines and creepers entangling their legs, curtailing their movement. Blind and lost, not knowing which way to turn, whilst their brave coach shouted ineffectual instructions from the technical area, every word muffled and falling on deaf ears. Drowning, the whole team playing with a hazy mist in their eyes, unable to see which way to go. Turned inside out. Skewered and slow roasted on a spit. Devoured. Sinking low into that numb pit of defeat.
Another good win for Leeds United under the sun, playing irresistible football at times. Great to keep another clean sheet, Kiko proving the doubters wrong, pushing our goal difference up in the process. We usually struggle when teams are in bad form, but did the job on Saturday, choking the life out of Stoke. Bamford continued his run of form away from Elland Road, four goals in the last three games on the road, Pablo back to his best with sublime passes for the goals pushed on by Costa and Nketiah champing at the bit from the bench.
Three days later and the Potters have to make the return visit to Elland Road. Lucky for Stoke Bielsa will make changes, unlucky for Stoke Costa and Nketiah are likely to start. Nketiah will be looking to add to his two goals and push for a starting position on Saturday against fellow promotion prospects Swansea City. You never know, Jack Clarke may even get a game! Nathan Jones is between a rock and a hard place. Surely, he needs to concentrate on digging his team from the basement of the Championship, though another loss may spell the end of his tenure in the Black Country.
The pressure is off Leeds, having just beaten them comprehensively in the league. A good opportunity for game time and a bonus if we make it through to the next round of the cup.
Forget Bielsa Ball, Saturday was an exhibition in Smother Ball