Leeds United’s game relies on starving a side of possession and an ever-tightening knot of pressure that suffocates sides. That wasn’t enough today against West Brom.
It was always going to be a big ask against a Baggies side whose quality wasn’t enough to keep them in the Premier League last season, but whose threat should see them be there or thereabouts come May 2019.
It was an unchanged starting XI for Marcelo Bielsa as he looked to send out his side in their new ‘Brazil’ kit for the first time. At times it would be a kit befitting the Samba Stars, what with the way that Leeds United have played this season.
Not this evening though.
Leeds United were taken to the cleaners by a West Brom side that recovered from a mini-slump in some style. Starved of possession, the Baggies took the crumbs they were presented with a tore Leeds United a new one. In fact, such was their threat they could easily have torn the Whites a second one as well.
The 4-1 scoreline doesn’t even begin to signify the dominance that West Brom had DESPITE only having 28.5% of the ball. Dangerous when going forward, organised and resolute at the back, West Brom simply showed Leeds the game, then swiftly took it away from them.
It was a result that had been threatening from the open exchanges, exchanges where the Whites were always coming off second-best. That was to be pretty much how the game developed; from that genesis Leeds were always coming off worse than West Brom were.
As batterings go, it was bad. If it’d been a boxing match, the referee would have waved it over at some point in the second-half. Leeds had held their own until half-time, chance and fortune their friend. However, come the second-half those two friends had proven to be false.
The beating, that was on the cards, started early in the half and proved to be sustained and prolonged. It started with Hal Robson-Kanu’s opener (51′), took in Matt Phillips goal (67′), progressed to Harvey Barnes’ dinked effort (83′) and was rounded off by Dwight Gayle’s cheeky backheel (84′).
Pablo Hernandez (90+1′) scored his 5th goal of the season, heading in over Baggies stopper Sam Johnstone for what was the sorriest of sorry condolence goals.
Whilst the gloss may have been chipped off in recent performances that the Whites have shown, tonight it was fully stripped and ready for recoating.
Yet, in Leeds’ defence, and what will hearten Whites fans cursing in the froth of their pints of Yorkshire Blonde, they are still in 3rd place in the league.
Up after the latest international break are winnable games against midtable Bristol City (24 November) and lowly Reading (27 November) both at Elland Road, these coming before another tough fixture away against Sheffield United (01 December).
However, for the next fortnight it is a case of accept a humbling loss with the humility that is needed. After schooling sides this season, it was Leeds United who were back behind the desk this evening.