Meslier stars as Leeds grind our three points against Sheffield United

28 Sep 2020 07:42 am, by YorkshireSquare

This season’s opening game at Anfield felt like a free shot. A chance to showcase Bielsaball on the biggest stage and show the world what we could do, and we won plenty of admirers in the process. Jürgen Klopp won’t have been the only one saying “Wow!” after that game had finished. On the flip side, last weekends game against Fulham felt like one we should win. If we are to survive in the Premier League this season, we need to beat the teams down the bottom end of the table and you’d think Fulham would be one of those. It was tense in the end but beat them we did securing our first important three points in the Premier League in the process.

This weekend however felt like the kind of game we needed to be winning if we going to achieve anything in the Premier League this season. The more games we win against mid-table opposition, the higher we finish up the table. The likes of Palace, West Ham, Aston Villa, Brighton and first up Sheffield United. Sheffield United are last years men, the surprise package that everyone delighted in seeing climbing up the table, but this season is already looking more difficult for them. The second season was always going to be tougher for them and they will most likely find themselves scrapping in the middle of the table this season rather than reaching for the European places.

Whilst Leeds took confidence from their performance at Liverpool and especially from their first victory at Elland Road last Saturday against Fulham, Sheffield United went into Sunday’s game lacking confidence, still anxiously searching out their first points. It was Leeds who looked more composed in the opening stages of the game, dominating possession with Sheffield United happy to sit back. The game felt much more like that we were used to from the Championship, not the swashbuckling football we had seen in the first two games of the Premier League season, a more conservative affair, both sides aware of the importance of not losing.

Leeds have come under some criticism for their defensive performances over the first two games but Cooper and particularly Koch were superb at the back, a partnership growing in understanding each week. It was Frenchman Meslier who stole the show though, pulling off a couple of world class saves to keep Leeds in the game. Both goalkeepers excelled to be fair, with Ramsdale bailing out Chris Wilder’s men on a couple of occasions too but it was Meslier who took the man of the match award. In thwarting Lundstram from eight yards, he pulled off one of the saves of the season so far. He also denied George Baldock with another superb effort, his strong hands up to the powerful shot.

The introduction of Rodrigo in the second half opened things up for Leeds as glimpses of the £27 million forwards talent emerged. He demanded the ball more than Roberts had done in the first half and moved it on quickly. It was such a move that found Harrison in acers of space out wide, able to deliver a perfect cross for Patrick Bamford who rose between the central defenders and nodded the ball downward to give Leeds the points in the 88th minute. That’s three goals in three Premier League games for Bamford, answering any questions that may have been asked of him with style.

Sheffield United are no push overs, but Leeds proved they could grind out results as well as play all out attacking football. It will be a different story against Manchester City on Saturday, but they proved against Leicester that they have defensive frailties and I’m sure Marcelo Bielsa will be looking forward to exploiting them!