Leeds United slumped to their second consecutive 4-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday. It was a bitter result for a team who didn’t exactly play all that bad but was undone by some sharp counter-attacking and use of set-plays by the opposition. And here, at The 4th Official, we will take a look at three key takeaways from Leeds United’s defeat to Crystal Palace this past weekend.
Rodrigo & Hernandez Were Missed
As we had predicted heading into this game, Leeds United are going to miss the services of Rodrigo Moreno heavily in this fixture and just as much was clear from their lack of creativity in the final third.
While the likes of Jack Harrison and Helder Costa tried to create opportunities in the final third, the Whites missed the dynamic and technical nature of Rodrigo. The Spaniard could have provided some much-needed support for Patrick Bamford inside the box while his ingenuity and ability to act in tight spaces could have been useful in breaching the Palace backline.
As for Pablo Hernandez, his ability to act as a ball-carrier could have improved Leeds United’s transition game in the final third. It could have also offered the creative essence that was lacking as Marcelo Bielsa started with three fullbacks.
Mateusz Klich Better In The Advanced Role
On Monday, Bielsa opted for a massive risk by deploying Mateusz Klich in the defensive midfield role, in the absence of Kalvin Phillips. The move failed miserably, and the Argentine was quick to revert that change by bringing Pascal Struijk back into the starting lineup.
It evidently improved the Pole’s performance as the midfielder worked tirelessly and often found himself on the end of loose balls in the middle of the park. With Rodrigo and Hernandez missing, Klich also took it upon himself to turn into a creator-in-chief for Leeds United, notably providing the assist to Bamford’s goal.
Klich is, no doubt, best suited in the advanced midfield role, where his aggression and work-rate make his team stronger in the first line of press. Bielsa, therefore, should stick with the same despite the apparent absence of the injured Phillips.
Poor Defensive Performance Once Again
While the absence of Rodrigo and Hernandez were critical behind Leeds United’s chance creation in the final third, the return of Liam Cooper clearly hasn’t improved the club’s defensive solidity. In fact, the club captain has appeared quite sloppy at the back, often coming second best in duels while also failing to keep check of his markers.
It has coincided with Robin Koch’s poor run of form, ultimately resulting in Leeds United conceding as many as eight goals in their last two matches. So a rapid improvement is indeed needed if the Whites are to have any hopes of bouncing back to winning form after the international break.