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Leeds United 1 v 1 Leicester City
Barclays Premier League
Sunday, 7th November 2021 Kick-off 14:00
Leeds take a point from a lively game with Leicester
Monday, 8th Nov 2021 12:17 by Tim Whelan

Marcello Bielsa thought we deserved to win against Leicester City, but once again we failed to make our possession count, and there were a couple of moments in the second half when the visitors could have snatched all three points for themselves.

Despite our difficult start to the season, we came into this game thinking we had a reasonable chance of getting all three points. Leicester themselves haven’t managed to reach the heights of last season, and we should have been a bit fresher after the Foxes had a European game on Thursday night and had to cope with a sickness bug breaking out in their squad.

With this being the nearest game to Remembrance Sunday there was the usual ceremony to pay tribute to the fallen. Following the minutes silence there was a warm round of applause for the veterans of the Yorkshire regiment who were in attendance, though I thought there were a couple of dodgy high notes from the bulger when he played the ‘Last Post’.

The only change in personnel saw Adam Forshaw coming in for his first Premier League start for nearly four years, as Shackleton hadn’t recovered from the knock he had taken at Norwich seven days before. But this involved a few more changes of position, with Dallas going to right back (Drameh obviously not trusted with a full game just yet) and Struijk moving to left back.

The game began at a lively pace, with Leeds playing in the usual Bielsa style and Leicester trying to counter by matching us for effort. The first chance came when Harrison was played in down the left, and his shot was curling towards the far corner before Schmeichel reached over to push it to safety. From the corner Phillips nipped in to flick the ball towards goal with his head, but unfortunately sent it straight at Schmeichel.

As usual the Leicester keeper was getting plenty of abuse for daring to be the son of a Man United legend. It’s now ten years since we sold him to the Foxes as one of Ken Bates’ dodgy money-saving moves, and at the time some excuse was made about Schmeichel not commanding his area. Which hasn’t stopped him becoming one of the Premier League’s leading keepers and winning two major honours in the years since.

Leeds continued to press, but we struggled to make it count, not least because in the absence of Bamford we were having to employ Dan James out of position as the main striker. As ever our main threat was Raphinha, and though we did have a shout for a penalty when he cut in from the right, he was ruled to have fouled the defender first before they both went to ground.

But the Brazilian’s moment arrived in the 26th minute, with a free kick about 25 yards from goal on the right. Leicester only built a two-man wall, no doubt expecting the ball to be chipped to the far post. But Raphinha went for goal, and it curled inside the far post with nobody else managing to get a touch. He then picked up a booking for taking his shirt off to reveal a message, and from the pictures I can’t make out what was.

And just like last week, we conceded an equaliser within a minute of taking the lead. It might have been because we hadn’t set up defensively after celebrating the goal, but Dallas found the ball bouncing over his head as it was played down the wing to Harvey Barnes. Barnes still had plenty to do, but he cut inside and chipped the ball over Meslier, and it curled and dipped just inside the far post.

Both sides had chances in the remainder of the first half. We had a corner which deflected off a defender and Schmeichel only just managed to push wide, but we had a scare when Lookman set up Youri Tielemans for a shot from outside the area. We know Tielemans can be deadly from long range from his efforts in the cup final and the October goal of the month competition, but thankfully this time he sent it over the bar.

In the second half there was more of the same, with Leeds continuing to have more of the possession, but Leicester still having chances at the other end, some of them through our won lapses in defence. Just like last week we created a needless problem with an overhit backpass, this time from Cooper, with Meslier having to clear off the line to stop an embarrassing own goal. This time we didn’t concede from the resulting corner, though Tielemans sent a shot just wide.

We should have scored from our own corner soon after when a flick from Phillips found Harrison at the far post, but somehow he managed to knee the ball over the bar when it looked easier to score. Let’s be kind and say it came to him at an awkward height. As we continued to press Dan James sent a shot narrowly wide, the closest of the four shots he would have during the second half.

As the crowd roared Leeds on, Rodrigo had a couple of chances. The first a shot from distance from a similar position to his goal last week, but unlike Krul, Schmeichel wasn’t going to let the ball slip under his dive. Rodrigo’s second chance was even better when Dallas played him in unmarked at the far post, but he could only send it into the side netting.

But after all our pressing, we thought we had gone behind in the 67th minute, with our vulnerability from set pieces exposed once again. Vardy flicked the ball on, and neither Dallas nor Struijk picked up Lookman’s run to the far post. He poked it in from about two yards, but for once VAR was kind to us, and the goal was ruled out for offside.

And a few minutes later Cooper provided yet more ammunition for his social media critics, when he failed to cut out a cross and allowed Tielemans to run through with only Meslier to beat. But our French custodian was quickly off his line and dived at Tielemans’ feet to smother the danger, before both players collapsed in a heap.

It wasn’t until the 83rd minute that Bielsa went to his bench to freshen things up, and Tyler Roberts came on for Harrison (Gelhardt being unavailable due to a slight injury). This did at least allow James to switch to being a winger again, though on the way out I heard another fan say “Bielsa is too slow with his substitutions. As soon as he brings Roberts on, he needs to bring someone else on for Roberts!”

The second sub came as the game when into the 90th minute, as we were about to take a corner. Forshaw had been struggling with cramp, so it was no surprise that he went off, but Cresswell came on, so I wasn’t sure what formation we had with another central defender of the pitch. I thought he might be useful in the air at the set piece, but instead the corner was cut back to Raphinha on the edge of the box.

The Brazilian’s first shot was blocked, and he was very quickly onto the rebound and hit it well, but unfortunately sent it just over the bar. That proved to be the last opportunity of the game, and both teams had to settle for a point, which I thought was probably a fair result from this hard-fought encounter.

Yet after the match, Marcello Bielsa thought we had done enough to win the game. “All the values in the game put us in front of Leicester. We created double the amount of danger they did, we dominated a large amount of the game, we defended well and attacked well, but even if we deserved to win, we didn’t manage to obtain it. We took the ball off them a lot, had a good possession because it was dangerous and these are all aspects to value and apart from that, it was a very beautiful game to see."

Which was true, but you have to make the possession count, so we need to get Bamford back after the international break, and to look for a back-up striker when the transfer window opens in January.

At least this point was enough to take us two places higher in the table thanks to Aston Villa and Watford losing over the weekend, and although we could have done with giving ourselves a bigger margin above the bottom three before the tough December fixtures, we shouldn’t have too much to worry about if we can keep on playing like this for the rest of the season.

Reuters



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