Since you were last here, things have gone... not so well.
We grabbed the win at Elland Road in the game after we played Wolverhampton (no thanks to us), and then had back-to-back games against 2 of the 3 relegated Premier League teams, Norwich City and Newcastle United. Things went exactly how I would expect against the teams predicted to be top contenders for the Championship title. We lost 0-1 away at Norwich, and then 1-2 against Newcastle at Elland Road. 1 win, 1 draw, and 4 losses in 6 games is not the kind of form that will get us anywhere near a return to the Premier League, so needless to say I was worried.
Our next 6 games went much better, where we went 3-2-1. I think the most important of those 6 were the games against Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion, where we managed to draw (albeit without scoring) against both. Villa is the 3rd team relegated from the Prem, and Brighton were nearly promoted from the Championship last season, and both are expected to make a top 4 finish. In my opinion, managing 0-0 draws against both teams shows a glimmer of hope for the remainder of the season. We also go into these next games off a Christmas victory.
League Game 24 - 12/31/16
Our New Year's Eve fixture sees us away at Villa park. We are only 5 games removed from our 0-0 draw at the beginning of December, so this should prove to be an interesting game. Our starting 11 remains unchanged, and Villa are playing with the same team that we drew against last time out.
Overall disappointment. That is how this loss can be summed up. We went in strong early on, pulled ahead with the very early penalty, they equalized shortly thereafter, and it was a boring game for the next 60 minutes. At about the 70-minute mark, all dominance we had in the match faded away. We did not make a single shot on goal in the last 20 minutes, and we absorbed 7 shots from them. They got a nice finish on the break against us late, and we did nothing to try to bring it back. Overall I am very disappointed with how the boys finished that game, and just looking at the last 20 minutes of the game I would say we definitely deserved to lose.
League Game 25 - 1/2/17
Now 2 days after the loss to Aston Villa, Rotherham come to face our strengthened squad at Elland Road. We have Antonio Di Natale making his debut up top, and Pablo Hernandez playing on the right in what will likely be one of his last games playing for us before his loan ends. He did not agree to either extend his loan or join permanently. Roofe steps on the left-wing for a winded Stuart Dallas, and Diego Poyet will replace Alex Mowatt in midfield. In the defense, Kyle Bartley will provide a much-needed rest for Pontus Jansson.
Overall it was a pretty slow match, with only 10 combined shots, and none of Rotherham's 4 were actually on target. We had the better part of possession during the game, and went ahead with a superb penalty from Antonio Di Natale for a goal-scoring debut. While we did maintain a clean sheet this game, there were several defensive errors that luckily didn't turn into anything thanks to Pontus Jansson. Liam Cooper, as solid as he is, has become a liability, allowing a clear-cut-chance nearly every single game because of some sort of error on his part. We might look to bring in a replacement for him during this transfer window, as I simply don't rate Kyle Bartley, the loan in from Swansea, as being capable of a starting role in defense.
FA cup Round 3 - 1/8/17
For our first FA Cup match this season, we play Hull city in the 3rd round. Our line-up will see Di Natale leading from the front after his goal scoring debut a week ago, against Rotherham. Stuart Dallas returns to the left wing, and Mowatt resumes his place in midfield. Jansson returns to the defense, and Cooper will be allowed one more chance beside Jansson.
That was... exhilarating. We went up in the first few minutes thanks to an own goal by Hull's keeper, and then were gifted a penalty 5 minutes later, which Di Natale netted, giving him a solid 2 goals in 2 appearances. We managed to stay 2-0 up for the first 2/3 of the game, that is until Liam Cooper was tasked with clearing a ball. Instead he let it dwell at his feet, allowing Robert Snodgrass to nab it off him and score. Cooper almost allowed Hull to score again 7 minutes later, but luckily the shot went wide. At the end of the day, we managed to beat Hull away from home despite the peppering that our goalkeeper received, who I honestly think deserved man of the match. Liam Cooper was made man of the match, but he didn't do any more defensive work than Jansson did, and he made 2 mistakes (1 resulting in a goal) compared to 0 mistakes by Jansson. Liam Cooper will no longer be a starting defender for Leeds United unless absolutely necessary.
Our season doesn't look all too hurt after a not-so surprising defeat away at Villa Park, and a solid win against Rotherham at Elland Road. On top of maintaining 8th place in the Championship, our FA Cup dreams live on to the 4th round, where we have drawn Millwall away at The Den. Hopefully this means a trip to the 5th round after a game that seems easy in comparison to Hull. Also, we'll be looking for a new defender to replace Cooper during this transfer window.
Ep. 4 "FA Cup Dreams"
In the next episode we play fierce rivals Millwall in the FA Cup 4th round. In the League we will play Blackburn Rovers and Huddersfield Town in league. The winter transfer window will be wrapped up, and you will get an update on the league table.
FM fanatic and football pundit