Garry Monk has already become a cult hero at Elland Road with the work he has already done at the Yorkshire club since taking charge in the summer. For many years, the Leeds fans saw themselves finishing not even in the top ten despite the big talks from Massimo Cellino. One after the other, managers came and went but Leeds hardly looked good enough for challenging for even a playoff spot. However, this season seems to be their season after many years and the credit goes to none other than Monk.
With yet another win in the Championship (beating Brentford 1-0), the Whites stay in the race for a playoff spot. They are right now fifth in the League table with a 2-point cushion over seventh-placed Derby County.
The race for playoffs is heating up and there is no breathing space. Only nine points separate third-placed Reading from 13-placed Aston Villa. One loss can change the whole equation and Leeds must be careful that they do not blow up their chance.
One of the key reasons behind the Whites doing so well this season is their strong defence. Kyle Bartley and Pontus Jansson have created a formidable partnership at the back. The Whites have conceded just 22 goals from 22 games this season which is not the worst figure. The partnership between Bartley and Jansson has worked so well that a player of Liam Cooper’s calibre is finding it hard to get into the side.
The chemistry between Bartley and Jansson has worked wonders for Leeds but over-reliance on them could hurt their chances. They have been extremely fortunate that both defenders haven’t had a prolonged run out of the team due to injury or suspension. However, if one drops out of the team for an extended period the Yorkshire giants’ promotion charge could be severely curtailed.
Leeds United should use the January transfer window to bolster their depth in defence and should try to get Arsenal defender Rob Holding on loan in January. The young centre-back has featured just three times for the Arsenal senior team in the last two months after joining from League One side Bolton in the summer for a £2.5million fee.
The promising young defender was that good that Wenger handed him debut in their season opener against Liverpool when his defence was hit by an injury crisis. The youngster has an immense potential and could do well with the experience he gets at Elland Road. Leeds should do all that they can to secure Holding’s loan for the all-important second half of the season.
Holding has struggled to get into the Arsenal main team and naturally so. The championship will be a massive dogfight in the second half of the season and injuries are frequent. At such a time, if Monk has good options up his sleeve, the Whites can remain unaffected. Last season saw the team struggle for goals when Wood was injured, if Monk is smart enough, he’ll want to avoid a similar problem, be it anywhere in the team.