As the first half of the season slowly draws to a close and the January transfer window looms over the horizon, a lot of us are in great anticipation to see how Victor Orta and the rest of the powers that be handle the coming months.
At the moment, Leeds sit in a fairly respectable position of 8th in the table and 3 points behind play off positions. Not the best, definitely not the worst. However, the big question we have to ask ourselves is how can we ensure we get ourselves back into the top 6 and back to the unbeatable team we started the season with. How do we do this? The transfer window.
The biggest issue i see with the current team is the inconsistency, and the lack of depth, of the defence. Including the goalkeeper (or keepers for that matter). Our biggest frustration is probably focused around the amount of goals we have conceded due to such avoidable errors. The whites have conceded 18 goals in 10 matches, and looking back on it that number could be halved if we had more discipline and all round composure in our own half. We definitely need to see talks for a new goalkeeper happen come January, I don’t believe that we can challenge for promotion if we do not have a first choice number one. Swapping goalkeepers every month due to mistakes will just cause frustration amongst the fans and inconsistency in the team. To solidify our chances of returning back to the top flight, we certainly need to see the arrival of a new goalkeeper. I have however realised recently, especially after our trip to the Oakwell, that the back line are a lot more calm and play a much better game with Wiedwald in between the sticks. This may be down to Wiedwalds pin point distribution or something entirely different.
The problem with the defence is the lack of depth we have on the bench. So far, our centre halves consist of Jansson, Cooper, Pennington and Shaughnessy. In January we definitely need to see the arrival of a more experienced centre back to replace Cooper or Jansson, should injury, suspension or drop in form occur. With Shaughnessy being more and more likely to be involved in a defensive midfield role and Pennington only being a loan-ee, we need to see a sustainable defender walk through the doors of ER this window. The full backs have also seen their fair share of problems as well, with Ayling and Berardi both having dips in form from time, Anita not getting a look into a match for over a month and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson being plagued with injury and more than likely returning to his mother club in January, full back plan B’s may need to be made a priority come January.
All in all, the midfield has been of the least concern for the whites this season. If i had to choose a part of the midfield where i believe we could improve, it would be the 2 of TC’s 4-2-3-1. Just recently we have seen Ronaldo Vieira replace Ireland’s Eunan O’Kane as Phillips’ partner to hold down the middle of the park. And if you ask me, he deserves to stay there. O’kane for me has been very marmite this season, he’s either been the best player on the pitch or the worst. His confidence has improved since last season, however he still makes school boy errors on the pitch from time to time (giving away possession to easily, making the wrong pass etc). So for me, Ronny has come in to rectify these errors.
The other man running the middle of the park is Kalvin Phillips, a player we have seen come on leaps and bounds since signing from the academy in 2014. He has played a very important role for the Whites, making 19 appearances in all competitions since the start of the campaign, scoring 5 goals. He has dipped in and out of form, but if i had to pick a partner for Vieira, it would be Phillips. I think we could look to deepen the midfield, mainly because of the temper of Phillips and Vieira, obviously we saw Vieira get sent off midweek against Wolves and Phillips has already seen yellow 7 times this season, a statistic which will definitely make Leeds fans anxious knowing our numbers are limited on the bench.
This end of the pitch has the potential to be one of the best attacks in the championship. We have experimented with different formations and different players, seeing 4 men take the role of striker so far this season (Wood, Roofe, Lasogga and Ekuban). However, in any game, it’s safe to say that if we want to be that formidable, goal scoring team we were at the start of the season, then two men should always be on the team sheet, none other than Samuel Saiz and Ezgjan Alioski. Since the duo came in summer at a combined 6 million, they have been worth their weight in gold. Scoring a combined 10 goals and assisting a further 5 between them, they really have been the engine for the Leeds United attack. Saiz seems to run past opposition with utter ease and Alioski is in formidable form, bagging himself 4 goals in 5 games. Pablo Hernandez is finding his feet again this season, and is definitely adapting to life on the left, rather than the central position he was used to under Gary Monk last season.
Our biggest aim for January is to bring in a striker to partner with or to be first choice to Caleb Ekuban. The Ghanaian has done nothing but impress whilst he’s been on the pitch, showing incredible grit and having the work rate of a horse. He is incredibly quick and has been unlucky on quite a few occasions in front of goal. It’s early days yet to put an exact marker on Ekuban’s ability and i’d certainly like to see him starting games a lot more. Lasogga hasn’t been seen in the First team picture since the international break due to illness. But i do think he really needs to work on his game outside of the box. The difference between Ekuban and Lasogga is the work they both put in whilst not in front of goal. As we saw at Barnsley, Ekuban loves to be on the ball and run towards the opposition, whilst Lasogga tends to play tactically and wait in the box for a cross or a through ball. But could the two polar opposites of play styles work in harmony together? It’s definitely a combination i would like to see.
What is everyone’s opinions? Is January the make or break or are we doing just fine as we are? Let us know in the comments.