Leeds United suffered their second defeat of the season against Charlton Athletic on Saturday afternoon, with Lee Bowyer’s men sealing an impressive 1-0 victory over last season’s third-placed side.
Macauley Bonne’s first-half goal was enough to secure all three points for Charlton, as defeat at The Valley meant Leeds lost their spot at the top of the table and dropped to fourth in the Championship.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side have now won just once in their last four league matches, with this defeat coming after the Whites conceded a late equaliser against Derby County at Elland Road last Saturday.
Leeds will be targeting a return to winning ways when they face league leaders West Brom at home on Tuesday night, but where exactly did they go wrong at The Valley?
Here are 3 things we learned from Leeds’ performance…
They are dominating possession but lacking creativity in the final third
Bielsa’s side recorded 72% possession throughout the match at The Valley, but they lacked fluidity in the final third and this ultimately prevented them from creating any clear-cut chances.
Patrick Bamford has received some criticism of late for his goalscoring instinct of late, but he was not at fault during this match as Leeds struggled to get the ball to him. Eddie Nketiah was also introduced ahead of the second half, but his partnership with Bamford also failed to yield results.
It is important Bielsa formulates a Plan B when his side are being frustrated in the same way they were on Saturday, as his tactical switches were not effective enough and Leeds didn’t have any answers to Charlton’s resolute set-up.
Teams will look to exploit Leeds at set-pieces
Charlton registered just three shots compared to Leeds’ 19 efforts throughout the match, but Bowyer’s side managed to take the lead when they capitalised on the visitors’ questionable organisation at set-pieces.
The goal meant that three of the five goals Leeds have conceded in the Championship this season have come from set-pieces, which makes this an area that Bielsa desperately needs to address within his side.
Leeds’ man-marking strategy is clearly not working and the Whites are also missing the height that Pontus Jansson provided last season. Other sides will learn from Charlton’s strategy and look to exploit Leeds in a similar way, with this meaning Bielsa’s side need to tighten up their set-piece routine ahead of the West Brom clash.
Costa is still yet to fully adapt to life at Leeds
Pablo Hernandez’s muscle injury meant Helder Costa was handed his first league start for the club, but he struggled to implement himself on the game during a difficult 90 minutes at The Valley.
The Wolves loanee needs to start playing games regularly in order to settle into Bielsa’s system, as he looked somewhat out of place on Saturday and lacked the killer instinct you would expect from a player of his quality.
The game may be considered an anomaly given Charlton’s pragmatic approach, but this is how the majority of teams will now line up against Leeds this season and Costa must learn how to break these teams down.