Another week, another sizeable loss for Leeds United in the Premier League.
Reports from Leeds United insider Phil Hay and his colleague from the Athletic David Ornstein this evening say that the club's legendary manager Marcelo Bielsa could be sacked before the day is out.
Could well have seen the end of the Marcelo Bielsa era today. Position is in serious doubt with Leeds United strongly considering making a change for the remaining games of the season.
Story w/ @David_Ornstein:https://t.co/Jnak7ahVuq
— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) February 26, 2022
You only had to look at what unfolded midweek. No one expected Leeds to give Liverpool, the in-form team in the world right now, a good game.
It was far from that. Some individual brilliance on display from some world-class talent didn't help. But it paints a sad picture of the state of affairs at Elland Road.
In August of 2020, things couldn't have been brighter for Leeds United fans. They travelled to Anfield for their first top-flight game in over sixteen years.
They were fearless that day. They brought the game to the reigning Premier League champions, narrowly losing 4-3 to a late Salah penalty.
Fast forward a season and a half and Mo Salah sank two penalties by Illan Meslier as Liverpool cruised to a 6-0 victory. Things have spiraled downward quickly.
4 - Today is the fourth time that Leeds have gone into half-time of a Premier League match three goals behind this season; only Watford in 2016-17 (five times) have ever done so more in a single season in the competition. Pennines. pic.twitter.com/dgeKSFl8uf
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 26, 2022
What The Stats Say
With their loss to Tottenham, Leeds have now conceded twenty goals in their last five Premier League outings. They've conceded the most goals this season of any team with 60.
You have to go back 62 years to the last time Leeds allowed three or more goals against them in four consecutive league games. Their defensive setup has been shocking.
As far as the Premier League table is concerned, they haven't plummeted into the relegation zone, yet. Three points separate themselves and Burnley in 18th.
Sean Dyche's side have a game this afternoon and could jump them with all three points. They've conceded thirty less goals than Leeds. Thirty.
LANDMARK: Leeds become the first ever @PremierLeague team to concede 20 goals in a single calendar month in the history of the competition.
The WORST defensive record in a single month in Premier League history. That’s how bad we are. #LUFC pic.twitter.com/UwK9OYwVwG
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) February 26, 2022
Burnley are known as a fairly rigid side but thirty goals is astounding. What other stats jump out this season? Leeds have struggled with their discipline.
They've the most yellow cards this season by a decent stretch. They've had to make the most tackles in the league too. Meslier has had to make the most saves.
Attacking wise, they are in the top ten in most stat sheets but they've fancied themselves from distance more than any other team in the Premier League.
Passing wise, they have the most low to ground passes out of any other team, possibly pointing to a lack of an out and out striker to target in the box.
They have the highest pressing count of any team too, so they're putting the opposition under pressure, but could be leaving themselves open in other areas.
The Stumbling Blocks
People point to the absence of Patrick Bamford as a key piece missing from Leeds' attacking line, but the hole that Kalvin Phillips has left since his injury is remarkable.
Phillips has been out of action since the Brentford game on December 5th. Up until that point, Leeds had conceded 22 goals in fifteen Premier League games.
In the eleven games that Phillips has missed, Leeds have conceded 38 goals. Bielsa hasn't been able to find a direct replacement for him at his disposal.
Bamford's absence hasn't gone without notice. In their last eleven games, Leeds have been held scoreless in six of these. You'd have to think he'd make a difference there.
Leeds will be without Patrick Bamford tomorrow. He’s played in 89/90 of our recent league and play-off matches, scored 19% of our goals & is our top scorer under Bielsa (44/232). You’d have to go back to Dec 29th 2019 (4-5 win at Birmingham) for our last league game without him. pic.twitter.com/guxCK9CFYW
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) September 24, 2021
Seventeen goals last season is a big miss, especially for a bottom ten club fighting against teams with bundles of attacking options. They haven't found a replacement for Bamford either.
Bielsa has opted to convert the likes of Daniel James and Raphinha to central roles and there's been some mild success, but nothing in comparison to what Bamford brings leading the line.
Covid, the inescapable topic, wasn't avoided either. Positive cases affected the Leeds squad over Christmas and led to two of their Premier League games being postponed.
The Fan Sentiment
There has been a visible air of disappointment surrounding Leeds fans over the past few weeks after a string of disappointing league results.
That air of disappointment has quickly turned to frustration now with a 4-0 loss to Tottenham. There comes a time when enough is enough.
Leeds might have been too complacent in the last two transfer windows. They're certainly not a financial powerhouse, so they can't compete with the bigger teams in that regard.
But they probably should have planned ahead and bought a second out-and-out striker, or added more quality to their bench in case of injuries permitting.
The likes of Daniel James and Junior Firpo have been welcomed additions, but it's not good enough in the top-flight to lose two players and accept the woes.
Marcelo Bielsa will also be under the microscope now for the next few games. A manager that probably had as high of an approval rating as any with fans before the season.
this man made me fall in love with football again and gave me the best 3 years of football I've ever seen.
not just from leeds, from any team.
whatever happens today, the ridiculous amount he's done for Leeds will never be forgotten, absolute hero.
long live bielsa. #lufc pic.twitter.com/JWe1E2r1bI
— bielsa's high press (@russianbot3004) February 26, 2022
Bielsa has tried to change things up formation wise over the last few games but there hasn't been a significant difference shown on the pitch.
Exciting football is praised, it's enjoyable to watch, but these type of performances from Leeds United are slowly becoming a Premier League laughing stock.
Fans of other clubs felt a sense of uncertainty when facing Leeds last season. It could be one of a number of outcomes. Now, it couldn't be further from the opposite.
Having endured sixteen hard years of Championship and League One football, this isn't a similar situation to the likes of Norwich, or Watford, or Fulham.
This is a well supported club where Premier League survival is as important to fans as anywhere else. Becoming the Premier League whipping boys won't cut it.