After "Bad Form"
Since the games against Southampton, Burnley, and Bournemouth we have had an increasingly disastrous fun of form with only brief sparks of light intermingled throughout. In the first game against Crystal Palace we scored right off the mark. We then conceded right around the half, and then right at the close of the game. It was disappointing, as even though Palace are a solid mid table team, I felt like we could have the quality to see them off. We then went up against West Brom, who are having one of the worst seasons of their existence. I believe at this point they only had 7 points, and that was right around the halfway mark of the season. We had a strong showing, with yet another one of Alex Mowatt's wonderful free-kick goals we cruised past West Brom. Joel Pohjanpalo's goal in the second half of the West Brom game would prove to be the last goal we scored for the next 3 games, as we concede 8 goals in the games against Chelsea, Manchester City, and Watford.
Our game against Liverpool was ours until the 70th minute, when they scored 2 goals in quick succession. Captain Liam Bridcutt's goal in the 4th minute of extra time of the second half saved the point for us in a game that we had statistically dominated for over an hour. Then we continued our winning record against Leicester with a solid 2-0 win. The last game going in to this episode was yet another hard match, going up against Tottenham. I didn't even give us a chance going into this and was resigned to defeat. That is, until we hit half-time 2-0 up. I was jubilent at the prospect that we could beat Tottenham in Wembley, and we stayed ahead until the 65th minute. Then they started scoring against us. Kane got 2, and Eriksen scored one of his sensational free-kicks. A game that I thought we could win ended as a 2-3 loss.
During the winter window, 3 players were brought in. We brought in Nampalys Mendy from Leicester in an effort to shore up our midfield that was simply being outclassed in the later half of the game as our subs weren't nearly the quality needed to compete in the Prem. We brought in Andy Carroll from West Ham as we were not scoring enough from direct play, which is how we won the championship. The thinking was that if we had big Andy in the box, we would score more off of crosses and set pieces, which we seemed more likely to score off of anyway. The final player we brought in, as Oliver from Atletico Madrid. He was transfer-listed for absolute scraps and was far and above the technical quality we had in the team at the time. Little did I know, he has been recalled from a loan in the fall, and had played a game for Atletico, meaning that we could not play him at all, so he was destined to spend the spring with our U-23s.
Both Andy Carroll and Oliver will join the team after the end of this episode.
FA Cup Round 3 - 1/6/18
Going into this game against Millwall, I figured our best chance of good run was in the FA Cup, and so I fielded the best team I possibly could. Milwall were a team that I expected to get a good result from, given our previous FA Cup encounter last season where we won 3-1. All of our regular starting 11 will be present for this match.
The game ended how I thought it would, though the fact that we managed to hold them to a single shot is rather impressive. It was a dominant game that gives us a slight confirmation that we are a solid team, regardless of our results in the Prem.
League Game 23 - 1/9/18
Our game against Arsenal was one that I would be elated to escape from with a point, though I don't know how attainable that is. Arsenal are currently flying high in 1st at this point, and we are sitting 18th, struggling to get out of the relegation spots. Nampalys Mendy takes over Liam Bridcutt's spot in the midfield as Bridcutt begins his 2-match suspension following the yellow card in the FA Cup. Hopefully it's debut for Mendy to remember.
This will definitely be a debut for Mendy to remember, but for all of the wrong reasons. This game was always going to be hard, and we stayed in it until right before the half. The red card really sealed us out of the game, and in the second half we were powerless to resist an Arsenal team that were flying high. We also didn't get a single shot off in the second half, which is to be expected as we couldn't create any quality moves.
League Game 24 - 1/13/18
We went into this game against Birmingham City with a much more direct, attacking approach as I was desperate to secure some points. Hadi Sacko picked up an injury in training which will keep him out for a while, so Leroy Fer stepped up into the right-winger position, with Alex Mowatt taking over in the midfield.
We did attack right out of the gates, and in the first half of the game, we seemed the better team. Mowatt scored another of his fantastic goals, and we were flying high. Their team-talk must have been phenomenal as they came out swinging, scoring less than 10 minutes after the restart. Honestly, given our second half performance, I would have been perfectly okay with leaving Birmingham with a point, but destiny would not allow that. A 90th minute own-goal from one of their defenders allowed us all 3 points, and got us closer to escaping from relegation.
We drew Liverpool in the next round of the FA Cup. Liverpool are an opponent that we have had trouble with since I took over at Elland Road, and now stand in our way should we wish to progress any further in the FA Cup. Andy Carroll should be available for the game, and will hopefully provide an edge against what I really hope turns out to be a heavily rotated Liverpool side. If we can either progress further in the FA Cup, or manage to avoid relegation, I believe that my job might be safe. Any result besides those two might see this journey to make Leeds great again come to a bitter end.
FM fanatic and football pundit