Expecting a hiding, most Leeds United fans were forgiven for fearing the worst against Burnley.
Unbeaten in 17 before the kick-off, Burnley’s 34-goal strike force of Andre Gray (21) and Sam Vokes (13) were expected to terrorise a flakey Leeds defence. A hiding was on the cards.
It wasn’t like that.
It looked like it could have been, Burnley taking a 58-second lead courtesy of Scott Arfield who profited from Andre Gray’s neat ball from Sam Vokes’ knock-down. The gates were open, the flood was expected – it never arrived.
Leeds didn’t escape the dangers entirely, with Burnley looking like they were a Premier League chasing team at times. George Boyd nearly opened Leeds up again with an almost carbon-copy goal to Arfield’s effort. But they didn’t have it all their own way as Leeds began to make inroads into Burnley. Leeds actually didn’t look that bad as the half ended – not quite a losing side but in no way a winning one either.
If Burnley were the better of the two teams in the opening half, they weren’t in the second 45. Leeds United more than held their own in the second half, shading the second half and creating the better chances. Of those ‘chances’, the best two fell to Chris Wood, but both his headed attempts at goal were off target.
All that aside, Leeds actually looked like a ‘side’, rather than 11 blokes who just turned up to have a go. They had the majority of the possession (52.9%), had the most shots at goal (20), made the most passes (391), had the most corners (11) and the most successful dribbles (7). These returns are the sort of numbers that you’d expect a winning team to put up; Leeds weren’t that team.
There layeth the problem, what Leeds fans witnessed was a better Leeds United but the same Leeds United. Fans had been asking for a performance, they got that and a much better performance it was too – so much so that there was a sense of hope attached to it.
But despite the promise, the same Leeds United was underneath it all. The Whites didn’t convert the changes that they were presented. There was no threat, well little threat, in the final third of the field. Despite the possession advantage, despite having the majority of set piece situations, despite Giuseppe Bellusci being on the bench, it was the same Leeds United that turned up.
Industrious and energetic, probing and prodding, driving forward but, in the end, let down by a lack of creativity. There was was fizz and sparkle but, like day-old Champagne, it eventually went flat in the end.
That final third of the field is a killer; it was the death of Leeds United today.