Leeds have had a very mixed start to the season with a run of five wins and two draws in their opening seven games putting them top of the Championship – but then a sequence of six defeats in their next eight matches dropping them down to sixth.
After keeping six clean sheets in those first seven fixtures, they have conceded 14 goals in the latest eight with a 3-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday their heaviest loss.
Their other away fixtures have produced wins at Bolton (3-2), Sunderland and Nottingham Forest (both 2-0) and Bristol City (3-0) and defeats at Millwall (1-0) and Cardiff (3-1).
At Elland Road they have beaten Burton (5-0), Birmingham (2-0) and Ipswich (3-2), drawn with Preston and Fulham (both 0-0) and lost to Reading (1-0), Sheffield United (2-1) and then Derby (2-1) on Tuesday.
Away from the league they had a good run in the Carabao Cup – reaching the fourth round where they lost 3-1 at Leicester after taking the lead. To reach that stage they beat Port Vale 4-1 and Newport 5-1 before winning 5-3 on penalties at Burnley after a 2-2 draw.
This is Leeds’ eighth consecutive season in the Championship after winning promotion from League One in 2010.
They were a founder member of the Premier League in 1992, having won the final old First Division title, but have not been in the top flight since 2004.
Among their squad on Saturday will be ex-Bee Stuart Dallas, who left us to move to Elland Road in the summer of 2015. Manager Thomas Christiansen dedicated the recent win at Bristol City to Stuart, who was on compassionate leave following the death of his mother and we send him our sympathies.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Thomas Christiansen was appointed as Leeds’s sixth manager in three years in June, after the departure of Garry Monk to Middlesbrough.
His only previous managerial experience was in Cyprus where he was in charge of AEK Larnaca from 2014 to 2016 and then last season Apoel, who he led to the league title and into the last 16 of the Europa League.
As a player, he was on Barcelona’s books, when Johan Cruyff was in charge, playing for the B team but never making a senior appearance. He played for a string of other clubs including Villarreal and Hannover 96, while he won two caps for Spain – scoring after coming on as a substitute in a World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.
On joining the club, he told BBC Radio Leeds: “I’m the guy who really wants to be here and has clear ideas of what I want to do to succeed and I am ambitious to bring Leeds back to where they belong.
“If we can do that in the first year then fantastic, if it is the second year that will not be bad.
“I did not sign here because of my name. I can only promise intense work and that I will do my best.”
Leeds had the perfect Christmas present when we met in mid-December last season as Kyle Bartley headed a last-gasp goal to give them a 1-0 win over us at Elland Road – the first time they had beaten us in the league in seven meetings since March 1954.
However, we earned revenge in early April as first half goals from Romaine Sawyers and Lasse Vibe gave us a 2-0 win – our seventh victory from eight Tuesday night home league games.
BBC Radio Leeds’ Leeds United commentator Adam Pope gives us the reasons behind United’s up-and-down season so far, why he thinks Stuart Dallas is so important to the side and which current Brentford player he wishes Leeds had signed.
Q – What were the general expectations from Leeds fans at the start of the season – another promotion push or a mid-table campaign – and why?
A – Having imploded with a few games to go and missed out on the play-offs last time, Leeds fans expected not to fall short this season. However, the appointment of the unknown Thomas Christiansen as head coach raised questions if that was a realistic ambition, when you consider very few foreign coaches without experience in this country challenge for promotion in their first full season.
The fact that the new regime, which had earned a lot of credit by that point, were right behind him allayed some reservations and suggested a top six finish was possible.
Q – What contributed to the side’s amazing start and what has been behind the recent slump in results?
A – There was an unusually high percentage hit-rate of new players from abroad performing well instantly. Samu Saiz, in particular, has adapted brilliantly. Add to that the captain Liam Cooper stepping up and the progression made by midfielder Kalvin Phillips then United started with renewed vigour.
Q – What difference has Thomas Cristiansen made to the club?
A – He has a calm and diligent way about him. It appears he has the trust of the players and the board. His appointment reflects the long term project building that is going on under Andrea Radrizzani. He seems happy to work with a director of football in Victor Orta, who is key in terms of making the signings.
Q – With 15 games gone now, how do you think the season will eventually pan out for Leeds?
A – I still believe they can make the top six. Newcastle went up as champions having lost 10 matches. Huddersfield were promoted via the play offs with 15 losses.
Q – How has Stuart Dallas been doing this season, especially as he seems to have been almost exclusively used as a sub?
A – For me Dallas has been in the best form of his Leeds career and it’s surprising he has not started more matches. In Tuesday’s defeat to Derby he played very well at left-back. Dallas is the type of player Leeds need more of to win promotion – seasoned campaigners.
Q – Which Leeds players should we watch out for?
A – Samu Saiz. Eight goals so far and has at times single-handedly turned games with his trickery and invention. He is also tough and can cope with the rigours of the Championship after arriving from Huesca in Spain.
Q – Which Bees players will you be wary of?
A – Sergi Canos ran Leeds ragged last time! Wish he had signed at Elland Road.
Leeds had a series of absences to contend with for Tuesday’s visit from Derby.
Captain Liam Cooper (dead leg) joined Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (ankle) and Caleb Ekuban (foot) on the sidelines while Gaetano Berardi and Kalvin Phillips were both suspended – although both will be available again on Saturday.
Phillips’ absence on Tuesday, for collecting five bookings, ended his ever-present record in the Championship this season, leaving defender Luke Ayling as the only man to play in every league match so far.
Kemar Roofe replaced Phillips on the right of midfield while, as mentioned earlier, ex-Bee Stuart Dallas came in at left-back for Vurnon Anita, who dropped to the bench, and Pontus Jansson returned in place of Cooper.
Their full line-up against Derby on Tuesday was:
Luke Ayling – Matthew Pennington – Pontus Jansson – Stuart Dallas
Ronaldo Vieira – Eunan O’Kane – Ezgjan Alioski
Kemar Roofe – Samuel Saiz – Pierre-Michel Lasogga
Subs: Hadi Sacko for Roofe 76, Jay-Roy Grot for Pennington 84, Pablo Hernandez for Alioski 84. Unused: Vurnon Anita, Felix Wiedwald (GK), Conor Shaughnessy, Mat Klich.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD
For Leeds fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be).
We are now back to the traditional four pubs around the ground, following the reopening of the Royal Oak.
The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and the Royal Oak are the other options.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted pre-match pub. This boozer & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other …. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.
The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields. The ‘Northfields run’ makes a much better pub crawl route than South Ealing – getting off at Northfields station, turning left and stopping off at The Plough (2 min walk), The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before ending up at The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) by the away turnstiles.
There’s also a relatively new tiny microbrewery pub in Northfields called The Owl and The Pussycat (Northfields Ave)– right turn out of the station away from the ground as opposed to left.
There is a pub right by Brentford station referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman (Ealing Road) can probably hold 15 of you at a push.
The Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit One Over the Ait (Kew Bridge Road) – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge with a beer deck overlooking the river – and The Express Tavern (Kew Bridge Road) – an ale pub with a retro feel.
A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.
Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Rd (ie. North) via Ealing Road or Windmill Road.
Getting to Brentford from town – many fans get the tube to Waterloo (Northern, Jubilee lines) or Vauxhall (Victoria Line) then take the Overground train to Brentford.
This is relatively straight forward but can actually take longer than if you get the tube due to waiting times (overground trains come every 15 mins and the journey from Vauxhall or Waterloo to Brentford is 30 mins on the fast train – 51 mins on the slow train – so you could find it takes you over an hour including the journey from Kings Cross/Euston/Paddington).
Many fans choose the tube over the overground. It’s 35 minutes to Northfields station from Kings Cross or Euston (less from Paddington) and then 15 minutes walk to Brentford from there (4 mins on the bus) – more if you take the Northfields to Brentford pub crawl outlined above (Plough, Lord Nelson, Globe, Griffin) of course. If you’re feeling lazy you could take the E2 bus from outside Northfields station to either outside The Globe pub (3 stops – serves The Lord Nelson too) or Brentford FC (4 stops).
You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.
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