Sadly, with Leeds still being in tier 3 for COVID-19, it meant no fans were allowed back into Elland Road. At the end of the game tonight I felt so frustrated and would have coped so much better by being back at Elland Road. With the new floodlights now in the West Stand car park, hopefully it means my camera will cope better with photos at night games once we are allowed back. I was glad to hear that my new book Leeds Are Going to the Premier League had arrived safely in Norway. I’m looking forward to seeing photos from those fans who have already bought the book and those receiving it as a Christmas present.
This morning saw a Leeds United coffin being offered for sale on Instagram although I wasn’t aware of it until tonight. Should I be worried that my granddaughter Hannah and daughter Emily thought it would be ideal for me…… although I did have a good laugh with them. Now I do like the idea of a Leeds United coffin, but I am not ready to meet my maker for a long while yet thank you.
Team: Meslier, Alioski, Cooper, Dallas, Phillips, Klich, Harrison, Raphinha, Rodrigo, Bamford and Ayling. Subs: Shackleton for Alioski (45), Costa for Harrison (45) and Roberts for Bamford (74). Subs not used: Casilla, Hernandez, Poveda and Struijk. Leeds lost the game 2-1 with Klich scoring our goal, a penalty (6). Attendance: Zero, behind closed doors. Referee: Michael Oliver. Today was Bielsa’s 113th match in charge for Leeds.
When Bielsa told the media on Wednesday what team, he was going to use today, I thought it was a little bit too early to give the opposition that information. Did it come back to bite us on the backside tonight? Who knows? With injuries to both Koch (had surgery on his knee) and Llorente after the Chelsea game last week, this meant a change of formation for us. Dallas went to left back and Ayling came in alongside Cooper in centre of defence with Alioski further up the pitch.
Leeds had a great start to the game with Cooper winning the ball and passing a great ball through for Bamford to run onto, who was brought down by the keeper and awarded a penalty. When Klich took the penalty, it was very tame and sent to the left of the goal we were looking at where the keeper saved it. It wasn’t the fact that the keeper saved it that I was berating Klich for, but there was no power in the shot. With that I was eating my words as VAR said the penalty had to be re-taken due to their keeper moving his feet off the line. To be honest, I didn’t notice anything at all, so it was a relief to get a second chance at it. This time Klich made no mistake as he sent a great shot into the bottom right of the goal to give us a sixth minute lead.
Maybe the re-take wound West Ham up as they won the ball back as they attacked us with two on two and luckily Cooper recovered and put it out for a corner. West Ham had a great chance, but the header was straight at Meslier. Replays showed Phillips got in the way of it and took the sting out of the ball. They had another chance but this time it was Ayling who took the sting out of it. We were letting them into the game as West Ham had a good 10-minute spell. Leeds had a couple of attempts with Rodrigo’s shot going wide after Alioski cross then a good run from Raphinha, but there was not enough power on the shot which the keeper picked up easily. West Ham equalised from a corner in the 24th minute with a header that Meslier was unlucky not to get to as Dallas was kept down by their player. Leeds tried to get back into the game with a good attempt from Rodrigo although the ball was hit straight at their keeper. Another shot from West Ham went wide before Leeds won a corner. As I was saying what a waste of a corner as the ball went back nearly to the halfway line, the forward ball nearly came to Harrison in the box, but the ball just ran away in front of him. Alioski was booked before a couple more attempts from Leeds with a header from Bamford straight at the keeper and a nice shot from Ayling although it was an easy save for their keeper.
Bielsa made two subs at the start of the second half bringing on Shackleton for Alioski and Costa for Harrison. I was happy to see Shackleton back as we needed a bit more in midfield and he could support Klich. A good move from Shackleton saw Bamford turn and shoot but it went wide. A good block by Ayling although he didn’t know much about it, saw the ball go out for a corner. With their next one Meslier tipped the header over the crossbar. I found it frustrating as it felt that we were going back in defence a lot even though I knew we were trying to break West Ham down. West Ham were still playing well and attacking us and came close again, but the ball went past the post. Phillips had a good shot put wide by West Ham. From a corner there was a great shot from Klich saved by their keeper. It was a shame the ball didn’t deflect off Bamford and go in. Roberts was brought on to replace Bamford on 74 mins who had gone down a few minutes earlier after a challenge. I was disappointed that we hadn’t brought Hernandez on earlier as I felt the game was crying out for a bit of flair from him. Benrahma to me was running their midfield. West Ham luckily put a shot wide when it looked like Cooper had decided to pull out of the tackle so as not to give away a penalty.
I was getting more and more frustrated as the game went on. There was a fantastic save made from Meslier after Leeds could not defend the set piece once again. A good pass from Rodrigo looked promising but Roberts couldn’t get on the end of it. I was just feeling that the only winner of the game was going to be West Ham and with that they did indeed score a second goal with a header from the free kick. West Ham had a couple more chances with a fantastic save from Meslier from an overhead kick and they nearly got a third goal which bounced back off a post. After lots of West Ham pressure there was a corner for Leeds but we were unlucky as the header from Rodrigo was straight at their keeper. At that moment I would have taken a draw, but it wasn’t to be as Leeds lost the game 2-1. The second game in a row where Leeds had taken an early lead but ended up on the losing side.
It is certainly going to be a long tough season but I found this defeat harder to take as it had been so frustrating to watch for me. We need that Elland Road crowd back there as the lads need us behind them. With another home game midweek against Newcastle and what would have been a return trip for us Leeds fans to old Trafford next week, we really need some points in the bag very quickly. You know what to do Leeds! LUFC – Marching on Together!