There was a bump in the road for Leeds United and their quest for Premier League football yesterday, with Cardiff City beating the Whites 2-0 in the Welsh capital.
Leeds could’ve moved three points clear at the top of the Championship table with a win, whilst maximum points would’ve moved them 10 clear of the chasing pack in the automatic promotion race.
However, goals from Junior Hoilett and Robert Glatzel, on the back of two Leeds errors, secured the points for Cardiff, who are now firmly focused on crashing into the play-off places.
It was a tough afternoon for Leeds, who played well without ever looking like they were going to blow Cardiff away after Hoilett’s opener.
Here, we start to dissect the action and list THREE things we learnt about Bielsa’s side…
A need to cut out silly mistakes
Both goals came on the back of lapses in concentration.
The first came from an unlikely source in Kalvin Phillips, who let a pass slip off his boot and into the path of Hoilett rather than finding its intended target of Ben White.
From there, the winger attacked the Leeds area before unleashing a shot beyond Illan Meslier.
And, in the second period it was Liam Cooper’s pass that failed to reach its man, which allowed Cardiff to work the ball to Glatzel, who volleyed in off Meslier’s post.
Without those two mistakes, Leeds have something from a tough away day. They were the type of mistakes that perhaps come when you’ve not played in over three months, but with so much on the line, Leeds can’t afford to be making them weekly.
Lady luck wasn’t with the Whites
From the two shots on target Cardiff managed, they scored two goals, punishing Leeds in a way Bielsa’s side failed to do at the other end of the pitch.
However, it might have been different had Leeds had a little bit of luck on their side.
Jack Harrison’s goal-bound effort after good work from Tyler Roberts was heading beyond Alex Smithies, but Patrick Bamford found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time to deny his teammate.
And, in the second-half, Smithies was denying the Whites with a stunning sprawling save from Roberts, who ghosted into the six yard box to meet Bamford’s header.
Next week, with a bit of luck, Leeds bury both those chances and don’t concede the sloppy goals they did.
Fine margins win you games in the Championship and without any luck, you’ve got an uphill task.
Quiz: The tricky 8-question Leeds United trivia quiz: Can you get 8/8?
Leeds can take nothing for granted
The past three months have seen Leeds backed massively to win promotion in the Championship’s remaining nine fixtures and, on the back of Saturday’s results at West Brom and Fulham, you could be forgiven if you thought a Leeds win would mean it’s all over.
However, this is the Championship and you’ve got to expect the unexpected.
Leeds remain in a great position with eight games remaining and, despite their defeat at Cardiff, they are arguably in a better position than they were heading into the weekend; another game has been chalked off and Leeds’ lead over third is still seven points.
Next weekend against Fulham is massive, though, and Leeds can’t afford to take anything for granted.
This weekend was a wake up call and after three months of every man and his dog telling Leeds they are going up, they’ve got to shut that out and get back to doing what they do best: winning football matches.