Leeds started the new era under Thomas Christiansen with a 2-3 win in an entertaining game at the Macron. I say entertaining, it was tough on the heart and thinning hairline for the last 30 minutes but we deserved, and much to discuss. The identity that has been discussed since Thomas Christiansen arrived was evident, and two goals came from slick moves from back to front. I will be doing my post-match articles different this year, one for ratings and one with my feelings on the overall performance.
Wiedwald – 6 – There is a lot of talk about the German keeper on social media, people didn’t rate his performance and want Green back. I didn’t want to see Green replaced, but that isn’t Wiedwald’s fault and in my eyes he did nothing wrong at all yesterday. It was his first game in a new league and a new team for him and I thought he was decent.
Ayling – 8 – The best I’ve seen Ayling in some time. I thought he was shaky towards the back end of last season and with Anita coming in I thought the pressure may get to him but he was brilliant yesterday. He was one of the leaders on the park and when everything was going 100mph at the end Ayling kept stepping in, winning fouls and finding feet. Very impressive.
Matthew Pennington – 8 – The young centre back made more clearances in the hour he played than any other player in the whole division this weekend. He was assured on the ball and defended very well. Gary Madine is a handful for any defender, he’s a lump and Pennington coped with him, and the others. Very good debut, hopefully his injury isn’t too bad.
Liam Cooper – 7 – I have buried Cooper at times but he did his job very well yesterday. He seriously has to cut out these long balls, surely he can see they don’t work. However…he was very good at the back and stuck his head in where most wouldn’t. Hopefully it will give him the confidence when he does play, but Jansson and Pennington look like being the first-choice pair.
Gaetano Berardi – 6 – Went off with a dislocated shoulder during the first half, steady but hard to rate.
Eunan O’Kane – 8 – MOM – Eunan O’Kane was my man of the match. A vital engine in the middle who was taking the balls where others wouldn’t dare, turning, twisting and getting us going from deep. Nailed on in that position for me as it stands. He has really come through pre-season with the win in his sails and the confidence seems to be flowing through him.
Kalvin Phillips – 8 – Another player who I have criticised at times but he got his goals yesterday and both at crucial times, especially his second. The first took a slight deflection but it was a lovely hit, you won’t see a better hit in that specific situation all season. Did the rest of his job without standing out but the goals will give him a huge boost. His second was a case of making sure you’re in the right area and by doing so he equalled the goals scored from all four central midfielders combined last season.
Kemar Roofe – 7 – I thought Roofe drifted in and out of the game but was a key figure when he did come alive. The second goal was a brilliant move and he was probably the biggest factor, beating players and whipping the ball in. Alioski also put one over from a Roofe ball, and had one saved on the line after Roofe squared in the second half. Looks like he has a new lease of life and is set to be an important player this season.
Pablo Hernandez – 7 – Hernandez showed on a couple of occasions what he can do as a number 10. He slipped Wood in for the goal, and he got in behind and squared for Wood before Sacko handballed in bizarre fashion. I stand by what I said that Saiz has been brought in to be the main man and Hernandez doesn’t have the consistency in him for us to progress, but he had a good game.
Ezgjan Alioski – 6 – For me he didn’t stand out going forward today but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he will be a brilliant signing. He didn’t really get at players today and I think that’s due to him finding his feet. Worked extremely hard and got his assist for Wood. Hopefully he can start taking players on and getting past them in the coming weeks, which I think he will.
Chris Wood – 7 – Wood will only get fitter and better for me again this season. His goal was instinctive and well taken and I think we can expect 20+ this season again, maybe not as many as 27 but I can see him getting goals. Great for him to get off to a good start. Saiz will help Wood as he will be more advanced than Hernandez is during the game. Worked hard and was up against some of the biggest defenders I’ve seen, land of the giants today.
Vurnon Anita – 8 – I thought Anita was class when he came on today and brought a calming influence to the side during the frantic last half hour. He was good on the ball, linked up well with the players and never gave the ball away. I think he will play at left back next week against Preston despite the imminent signing of Borthwick-Jackson. I honestly believe he will be such a key signing for the club over the next few years.
Conor Shaugnessy – 6 – Daft penalty to give away but apart from that I thought he did well for a youngster making his debut, especially out of his natural position.