Ringing the changes for Brentford
09 Feb 2020 08:25 pm, by YorkshireSquare
In recent weeks the only small positive to take away from the losses and draws has been that we have still dominated games, still had most of the possession and created chances. Even against Millwall, aside from the first five minutes, there was always the feeling we were on top and once the first goal came a lot of Leeds fans would have been confident that we could get the victory. Against Forest was a different story though, it felt like the only game this season where we have not been on top. Leeds still dominated possession but Forest pressed hard, won nearly every second ball, broke quickly and dominated the chances and especially chances on target.
Luke Ayling bravely faced the LUTV cameras after the game but he seemed dejected. Fully aware of the fact that Leeds United have not scored the first goal in a game for a long time and created a little in the way of clear cut chances but obviously concerned that they are not finding the answer to these problems. “How do you get out of that problem?” asked Bryn Law, the answer “I don’t know. Keep working hard, keep trying our best. I think that’s all we can do and hopefully things will change around.” But can we rely on hard work alone or do the changes need to be rung? Ayling to be fair was one of the better performers but other look stale or lacking in confidence.
It can’t help that some of our form players; Hernandez, White, Ayling and Dallas are all playing out of position. Here are the changes we’d make for Brentford, square pegs in square holes and some fresh blood and new ideas into the team…
One of the biggest issues in recent weeks for Leeds United has been that they aren’t making it hard enough for the opposition to score. Often the first shot on target has lead to a goal putting Leeds on the back foot. Against Millwall we conceded early from a corner, against Wigan a corner is deflected straight in over Kiko Casilla and against Forest he is beaten at his near post. Kiko was saving 80% of chances earlier in the season, now he is saving just 44%. If that chance against Forest happens earlier in the season he saves it in my opinion. Whether it is the potential ban hanging over him or recent results getting to him, Casilla looks like a goalkeeper lacking on confidence. Meslier on the other looked assured during his debut against Arsenal and if Beielsa were to make any chance to his favoured eleven then this would be the most pressing for me.
Kalvin Phillips seemed to sum up the frustrations of Leeds United fans and players alike with his late lunge on Geoff Cameron against QPR. Despite that Phillips has been one of our best performers over the last 18 months, the heartbeat of Bielsa’s side and he has been missed. Phillips returning to his defensive midfield role will give the team more structure, the defence more protection and he will provide the base of many of Leeds United’s attacking moves. What’s more is that Phillips return will allow some of our other better performers to return to their rightful positions. Luke Ayling can return to right back, Ben White to central defence and Stuart Dallas to left back where he can replace the defensively naïve Gjanni Alioski.
There is something missing from our attacking threat and a change at Number 10 could offer new ideas. Pablo Hernandez has not been the same player in this role, his best work for Leeds has been out wide and I would move him out to the right-hand side of midfield again where he has more space to do his thing. Roberts is a player I like a lot, but injuries are a worry. He took a knock ten minutes into his Forest appearance and was rumoured to have left on crutches. So up steps Jamie Shackleton, not unfamiliar with this position his natural tempo would look to put Leeds on the front foot early. Too often we have been slow to build up our attacks, Shackleton could be the answer to this problem. We need new ideas in the middle and we are better with Pablo operating out wide. We always have Ian Poveda to come on and cause carnage in the last fifteen minutes too.
Everyone knows Leeds United’s biggest problems, we don’t take our chances. For all Bamford’s work, and he does contribute a lot to the team, his finishing his poor. He can cover his ears all he likes but shooting backwards and heading sideways doesn’t score goals. Leeds need something new up front and that is Jean-Kévin Augustin. There has been a lot said about why ‘Big Kev’ didn’t feature earlier, not fit, overweight, doesn’t know the system etc. But during his twenty minute spell against Forest he looked lively, took up positions Bamford wouldn’t have, told the wingers where he wanted the ball played and though no great chances fell his way he looked to shoot early and won Leeds a couple of corners.