Thursday, October 6, 2022

Leeds United 2020/21 Season Review: The Highs And Lows From This Incredible Campaign

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Jack O’Brien
A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.

The 2020/21 Premier League campaign came to a conclusion on Sunday, with Leeds United emerging as one of the real winners. Returning to the top-flight scene after almost a decade, the Whites enjoyed a terrific season under Marcelo Bielsa, finishing ninth in the league table.

In this article, we will review Leeds United’s 2020/21 campaign, as the Yorkshire outfit look to further improve ahead of the new season.

A Complete Leeds United 2020/21 Season Review

Expectations

There was a lot of excitement about Leeds United heading into the campaign. They had performed really well in the Championship last season and have been a force to reckon with ever since the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa. However, hopes weren’t high in regards to their league finish, with the majority of the fans just being content with their survival and the retention of the Premier League status by the end of the campaign.

In the cup competitions, Leeds United were expected to fare better and perhaps reach the quarter-final of the FA Cup or at least do well in the Carabao Cup.

Results

Results have been quite extraordinary for Leeds United, to say the least. They mesmerised the Premier League with their high-octane style of football, performing particularly splendidly against top sides. The Whites finished the season in the ninth spot, ahead of Everton, Brighton and Crystal Palace. They could have finished higher had it not been for Arsenal’s streak of five consecutive Premier League wins.

Leeds United, though, disappointed big time in the cup competitions. It appears Premier League was the prime focus for the Yorkshire outfit, which is why they were knocked out of the FA Cup third round by Crawley Town and Carabao Cup second round by Hull City.

The Manager

Marcelo Bielsa was one of the best managers in the Premier League this season and was even voted alongside Hansi Flick and Jurgen Klopp in the annual awards last year. His high-octane attacking football, coupled with an aggressive line of press made it difficult for the opposition to properly defend them, which is why the club has such a great record against the top six.

A Complete Leeds United 2020/21 Season Review - One of the best in the business.
Leeds United v West Bromwich Albion – Premier League – Elland Road Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa sits on the touchline during the Premier League match at Elland Road, Leeds. Picture date: Sunday May 23, 2021. EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or live services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xRichardxSellersx 59965518

Bielsa also took steps to improve his side’s defensive record during the second half of the campaign. He was open to making changes to his formation, and it paid dividend as well, with the Whites significantly improving in the defensive unit since the turn of the year.

Best Performers

It is hard to choose a particular player for Leeds United this season, as multiple players stepped up their game. But Stuart Dallas was a particular standout player, playing in various roles and delivering exceptionally, especially during the second half of the campaign. The Northern Ireland star chipped with eight goals, some of which were important in the context of the corresponding matches.

Another player who deserves a shoutout is Raphinha. The Brazilian needed no time settling into English football, instantly becoming Leeds’ most creative outlet in the wider positions. He was supported well by Jack Harrison and Luke Ayling, collectively creating multiple chances for Patrick Bamford, who has been Leeds’ best player in the first half of the campaign.

Disappointments

Amid all the improvement around the squad from last season, Helder Costa was a bit of a disappointment for Leeds United. Although the former Wolves winger started the campaign on a positive note, he lacked consistency in his game, before losing his place in the side to Raphinha.

Pablo Hernandez, too, was a disappointment, although the Spaniard was unlucky due to the lack of game-time offered by Bielsa. The veteran playmaker is set to leave the club at the end of the season.

Ones To Watch Out For

Diego Llorente was arguably the most impressive player for Leeds United during the backend of the season. The new signing from Real Sociedad was struggling with injuries for the majority of the campaign but showcased immense fighting spirit to come back and earn his place in the side.

A Complete Leeds United 2020/21 Season Review - Diego Llorente has been an inspiration.
Southampton v Leeds United Premier League 18/05/2021. Leeds United defender Diego Llorente 14 gestures and reacts during the Premier League match between Southampton and Leeds United at the St Mary s Stadium, Southampton, England on 18 May 2021. Southampton St Mary s Stadium Hampshire England Editorial use only DataCo restrictions apply See www.football-dataco.com PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK , Copyright: xMalcolmxBrycex PSI-12768-0052

Llorente, in fact, was a key reason behind Leeds’ improvement on the defensive front. And as we head towards the new campaign, it won’t be surprising to see him emerge as a real defensive leader for the club.

How Can They Improve

Leeds United have ticked all the boxes upon their return to the Premier League. They have an excellent creative unit and have improved defensively as well, thanks to the 3-3-3-1 formation that has offered some much-needed solidity at the back.

That said, there are major concerns over the side’s lack of depth in the squad, especially in the midfield and fullback positions. The Whites, therefore, should ideally look to address that problem in the summer by entering the market.

They also need to secure an alternative for Patrick Bamford, especially considering how the goals have dried up for the forward in 2021.

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