Leicester v Leeds

Well, that’s been another great week and I think the two games have been a real sign of how far this Leeds side have come this season.

To win up at Newcastle in midweek was no mean feat at all. We’ve never had the greatest record up there – older fans still tell me about a 5-2 horror show up there over 30 years ago – and to go there and win and then follow that by going to Leicester, a team with genuine title ambitions, and win 3-1 really shows how we have progressed and developed.

I have to be honest, I was worried when we lost Diego Llorente early on at St James’s Park, but Pascal Struijk replaced him and was arguably our man of the week. He was outstanding in both games and really took his chance. He looks a physical presence and hopefully he can get a partnership going with Liam Cooper now. Coops has done really well this week and he’s looking like the leader that he is. He seems to have been much more comfortable. Maybe it’s taken a while for him to settle into the pace of the Premier League but, particularly in the Leicester game, he was flying into challenges and getting his blocks in, and he looked very assured.

At Newcastle, I thought we had an off day in some respects, but because of the way we play we can get away with that at times by hitting teams on the break. We scored two great goals at Newcastle – through Jack Harrison and Raphinia – and they have really shown over the past week how they can hurt teams. Not only have we been real threat in wide areas, but defensively the pair of them have done far more and I’ve been really impressed. I’ve said before that was an area of concern because while we were a real threat out wide the lads needed to do more defensively down the sides, and it looks like that’s something that has been worked on. That could be a real turning point for us, and it was particularly evident against Leicester where the pair of them covered plenty of ground getting up and down.

And what can we say about Patrick Bamford? His goal at Leicester was class. Better goalkeepers than Kasper Schmeichel wouldn’t have got anywhere near that. He’s also shown the other side to him – the things that people don’t always notice and don’t give him credit for. It was a lovely touch from him for Stuart Dallas’ goal and then the one he laid for Jack Harrison really showed what he’s all about. Most strikers would have gone for goal themselves, but he knew where Jack was, he knew Jack would score, and he knew that 3-1 would kill the game. It was a great piece of unselfish play and he showed again his awareness is first class.

The team seems to be picking itself at the moment. Hopefully Rodrigo’s injury won’t be too serious, but if he does miss a couple of games, Mat Klich is a ready-made replacement as we saw on Sunday and have seen before when he has played so well at times this season.

When the final whistle went on Sunday, I think there will have been a fair few reflective smiles around. To go from losing 4-1 to Leicester at Elland Road three months ago to a convincing 3-1 win down there really does show how far we’ve come.

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