There was certainly an element of Deja-vu when Marvin Emnes battered the ball home from the edge of the box. Just 3 days earlier Australian international Aaron Mooy experienced the same, at the same end. However the situation was completely different away from the goal and rightfully Leeds bounced back and made sure of Garry Monks’ first home win.
Monk got his selection spot on after failing to do so in the Huddersfield game. 4-2-3-1 with Hernandez in behind Antonsson. Rightfully Chris Wood found himself on the bench and Monk got the reaction he wanted from the striker. Eunan O’Kane started alongside Liam Bridcutt in the middle and also looked good in patches, and encouraging debut taking the ball deep and in tight areas, influencing the patterns in the early minutes. Stuart Dallas was also recalled and was impressive given his poor early season form. I’ve been critical of Dallas so far this season, he hasn’t looked the player he was last season but he looked busy last night.
Being honest Blackburn are one of the poorest sides I’ve seen this season and probably last. They were happy launching the ball long to Danny Graham and getting Craig Conway on some runs. Set-pieces were the main route into the box for the Lancashire side and a defence marshalled by the very impressive Pontus Jansson. As the game went on the worry was a goal if we couldn’t get in front despite dominating the game. As it was Garry Monk got his changes bang on as well. Phillips replaced the injured Liam Bridcutt and despite having a part to play in the Blackburn goal he was fully committed to the cause. Wood replaced Antonsson and got his goal, he was very good when he came on. I’d keep him on the bench again for Saturday just to really give him the drive he seemed to posses again last night.
Mowatt also looked better in a central role and put a lovely ball in for Kyle Bartley who headed us into the lead. Bartley really stepped up when Liam Bridcutt went off last night. He led by example and although pushing Sacko after a bollocking wasn’t nice to watch it did him the world of good. Sacko’s assist was brilliant for Woods goal and I honestly believe he is key to success in this team. He needs to have more confidence in his own ability because he is class when he’s at it. It was a deserved win but we were shaky after the goal and there was still lack of movement and ideas at times, but a huge improvement on what we’ve seen at Elland Road this season.
Man of the Match – Pontus Jansson – To be fair his tweet was worthy of a mention too, I love the passion he showed last night. Won 4 headers in a row from corners and looked great in possession, looks like we have landed a very good player from the first couple of games.
Green – 6 – Kicking and commanding was good but I do believe he should have saved the Emnes strike.
Ayling – 6 – Puts everything into every game, probably the weak link at the back last night but exposed by Sacko’s lack of cover. Good on the ball but suspect when players get at him.
Bartley – 8 – Thought he was brilliant, led by example when Bridcutt went off and made sure the young team was committed until the 98th minute. Very impressed.
Jansson – 9 – Best centre-half pairing display I’ve seen for a while. Won everything in and around the box, great on the ball apart from one lapse and full of confidence and experience.
Taylor – 6 – Did what he had to defensively, doesn’t want to be here anymore and made it clear by pulling out of two challenges which upset me and many others. Is it really that bad to play for Leeds United for one more year?
Bridcutt – 7 – Dominated the ball while he was on and got stuck in, hopefully just an impact injury and nothing to serious.
O’Kane – 7 – Didn’t stand out but I was impressed with his confidence to take the ball in tight areas and find the pass out. Suits the style of play Monk wants, worked very hard and ran out of steam.
Sacko – 9 – Tore strips off the left-back but failed with final ball. Got us on the front foot so many times and took the fight to Blackburn, moment of pure raw ability to set up Chris Wood.
Hernandez – 6 – Was lively but faded out. Looked better with Bridcutt and O’Kane behind him and a player who clearly needs game time in the coming weeks.
Dallas – 7 – Played well and was busy throughout. Came inside and made sure his pace wasn’t exposed. Worked very hard and easily the best we’ve seen him since the Euros.
Antonsson – 6 – Struggled at times but certainly more mobile than Wood. Linked up when he could and won some good free kicks when nothing much was on, needs time to adapt to lone striker role.
Phillips – 7 – Despite having a part to play in Blackburn goal I was impressed with Phillips. Continued Bridcutt’s bite and got on the ball deep. Stuck his head and legs in where it hurt and showed what it means to play for Leeds United when graft is required.
Wood – 8 – Came off the bench and had his best performance this season. Won headers, held the ball up and got his goal. If he doesn’t do that from the start then he needs to be back on the bench, but made a difference when he arrived.
Mowatt – 7 – Thought his delivery and work rate were top when he came on. Perfect ball for Bartley for the winner and grafted for the cause, getting stuck in and making sure we held on. Looks fit and sharp, much better when he’s not played out of position.