Good Morning. It's Monday 16th May, and here are the latest headlines from Elland Road...
It's going down to the wire
Leeds were given an eleventh hour reprieve from life in the Championship after Pascal Struijk's injury time equaliser saw them claw their way out of the bottom three. Unfortunately, clemency is in short supply when you're Leeds Utd, and a new date with destiny has been pencilled in for 16;00 hrs, this Sunday in South West London.
Leeds started brightly, and were unfortunate not to take an early lead. Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez failed to keep hold of Kalvin Phillips inswinging corner. Gelhardt reacted quickest. He turned, pivoted, and was about to smash the ball into the roof of the net, only for Liam Cooper to get in the way.
As the first half progressed, Brighton took a stranglehold of the game, and were soon ahead. Danny Welbeck was too strong for Llorente as the former Manchester Utd striker latched on to Bissouma's through ball. He bared down on the Leeds Utd goalmouth, before delicately chipping the ball into the back of the net.
Klich could have equalised just before half-time after a well executed set piece. Raphinha rolled the ball to the edge of the area (from a corner). The Polish International's strike looked destined for the back of the net, only for Sanchez to make a stunning fingertip save.
The Spanish shot stopper was called upon again with twenty-five minutes remaining. Raphinha's 30 yard free kick was heading for the top upright until Sanchez managed to claw the ball away from danger. The hosts went even closer on 73 minutes. Rodrigo curled a great cross into the Brighton penalty area, slicing the Brighton defence apart. Unfortunately, Cucurella's timely intervention was enough for Raphinha to fluff his lines.
Seeing this effort go narrowly wide, was too much for many Leeds fans, who out of sheer desperation suddenly turned on Radrizzani, and the Leeds board. Up until this point, the Elland Road faithful had stayed loyal to the cause, but there's only so much even a Leeds fan can take before they snap. Despair and animosity turned to jubilation, deep into injury time when Pascal Struijk netted his first goal for the club.
Llorente's cross found Gelhardt in space, deep in the Seagulls penalty area. Marshalled by Dunk, Cucurella and Mac Allister, the Leeds youngster made his way to the Brighton by-line, beating his men, and delivering a perfect cross across the goalmouth to Struijk to keep Leeds alive going in to the last game of the season.
Why hasn't Gelhardt been used more
'If Messi would have done it, you’d be going mad.' Those were the words of Paul Merson following the wizardry shown by Joe Gelhardt in setting up the last gasp equalizer against Brighton on Sunday. The 20 year old has endured a frustrating 21/22 season, not because of his ability, which has never been in question, but why he has been largely ignored up until a few weeks ago.
With the amount of injuries Leeds have had, it's been an absolute travesty how Gelhardt has been treated, especially under Bielsa's watch. To play Rodrigo, James and Roberts out of position week in, week out when we have a square peg for a square hole has left many bewildered. Being left on the bench to rot also had a detrimental effect on the U23's as he was omitted from playing for them in case he was needed for first team action.
As of a couple of weeks ago, Gelhardt had played fewer minutes than Bamford this season, prompting former Leeds keeper, now pundit Paul Robinson to recently suggest that Gelhardt should quit Elland Road this Summer.
If we had this conversation before Sunday, I could have easily said he’ll go and leave to play every week because he’s good enough and he wants to. But he got a surprise start against Arsenal, which is what I’ve been calling for for a long time. It was difficult for him because Luke Ayling got sent off and they had to play with 10 men but they haven’t got a recognised number nine without Patrick Bamford.
Why they’ve tried to make do with Rodrigo, Dan James, et cetera and playing different formations when they can play the same formation but put Gelhardt there. I don’t know why they haven’t done it. He’s more than good enough to play in the Premier League and if he’s not going to get his opportunity at Leeds then he should maybe look at moving on.
There’ll be no shortage of takers for him and he’s at an age now where he needs to play whether that’s in the Premier League or in the top-half of the Championship. He could score 25 goals a season in the Championship for a top club.
Leeds still favourites for the drop
Bookies still believe that Leeds will go down this season, even after their last gasp heroics yesterday. Leeds are 11/8 favourites to be playing Championship football next season, with Burnley 13/8 and Everton 7/1. Fortunately for the Whites, both Burnley and Everton lost at the weekend, but both have a game in hand. The Clarets face a visit to Villa park, whilst the Toffee's entertain Crystal Palace.
If Everton beat Palace, they are safe. If they draw, they would need just a point or a win at the Emirates, assuming Leeds beat Brentford. Burnley would only need a point against Newcastle on the final day if they beat Aston Villa on Thursday. If they lose both their games, then whatever happens, Leeds wouldstay up, even if they lost at Brentford.