Three games into their first Premier League season and Leeds United have two wins on the board and were unlucky to lose a humdinger of a game against Liverpool in the opening day Battle of the Champions. Fears of scrambling around for the odd point nicked here and there are far wide of the mark.
After that pulsating 4-3 loss against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, a game where Leeds United’s play proved a handful for the Reds, many were looking for a settling down of the adrenalin. Nope, sorry, we go again. Another 4-3 wild game where, after racing to a 4-1 lead, United were hanging on as defensive frailties meant that opponents Fulham were able to sneak back into the game somewhat.
Ever the thinker and analytical tinkerer, Marcelo Bielsa knew that the defensive lapses needed to be tightened up if this season was to be the success that many fans had hoped for. Deep in their minds, even these fans would have prepared themselves for dark days, being outclassed by some sides, getting the hidings of their life against some teams.
The thing is, none of that has come true. Even against Liverpool, Leeds United made a very good side look vulnerable at times. Three of Liverpool’s goals came from set-pieces and Patrick Bamford made Virgil Van Dyke look more like his namesake Dick when he scored from the Dutchman’s error of judgement.
Today’s game against a dangerous Sheffield United side was another notch made in the improvement bedpost. For the first time this season, the Whites were solid at the back and looked composed. Robin Koch both looked more comfortable and, more importantly, didn’t give a penalty away. All over the park, Leeds United looked solid – much more so than the Fulham game.
It was a fantastic, derby scrap that was as entertaining in the play on the field as it was for the heroics of both keepers with Aaron Ramsdale and Illan Meslier keeping their respective sides in it. It was a game that was always going to be won at a nip-and-a-tuck and it was the Whites who nipped in and it was Patrick Bamford who tucked it away.
Three games in, six points in the bag; it doesn’t sound that special. However, over those opening three games, Leeds United have shown that they are no-one’s whipping boys. Granted, the defeats will come but it is looking likely that Marcelo Bielsa’s boys are going to give a good account of themselves at all times.