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The Same, But Different (Leeds United)

We go again...
Started on 27 April 2020 by joshleedsfan
Latest Reply on 16 September 2020 by joshleedsfan
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I think the aim at this point in time is just to simply keep going. A top four finish would be incredible but European football in any capacity would be welcome.

Fantastic business in the window too with Haberer departing for a hefty fee considering his inability to reproduce his magic this season. Add to that the low-risk signing of Pellegri. Excellent.
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I echo what Scott said. European football would be a brilliant achievement this year and if that can be top four, then wow. The transfer window seems to be a great one with Pellegri a great Haberer replacement and at that fee a no brainier. It's a shame about Harrison who had the potential to be a really good player for you, but with the team seemingly coming on leaps and bounds, he is going to struggle to make the grade now.
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PRE RUN-IN 2021/22


RESULTS










LEAGUE TABLE



A defeat against Liverpool and a few dropped points in Manchester have probably killed any outside hopes we had of taking the title. We've sealed a spot in the top seven, but there's still plenty to play for. Those outside the top four are breathing down our necks, so it's vital that we take as many points as possible from the run-in if we want to secure top four, although I would've ripped your arm off just for a spot in the Europa League II at the start of the season. Would be a shame to be in the top four for so long and not finish there though, so we have a responsibility to see it through now.

STAR PLAYER



Haris Seferovic has marked his return from injury with a handful of important goals to keep our top four spot secure. You may have noticed the absence of Eze in recent weeks, he has been sidelined with a lower back stress fracture and Seferovic has stepped up in his absence to bag three goals since his return. His goals in Manchester gained vital points for us, stopping both the blue and red halves from pulling away further from us. His form will be crucial in the next five matches.

THE RUN-IN PREVIEW


Leicester City (H) (13th)

  • A far cry from the team that earned a spot in the Europa League II last season, Leicester have been undone by a tendency to throw points away at will this season. We were held to a 0-0 draw at their place earlier in the season, but having taken thrashings from other teams around us this season (notably Liverpool, Man United and Arsenal), I expect things to go differently this time around, particularly with home advantage on our side. I'll be disappointed with any less than three points against these.

Everton (A) (15th)

  • Everton have been making hard work of the Premier League for themselves since we returned. They narrowly avoided relegation last season and seem to be facing the same battle this year. Inconsistency has been their enemy this season, with respectable- if not particularly impressive- results against the bigger sides cancelled out by consistently dropping points against the weaker teams. They've picked up just six points from their last five home games and despite their habit of picking up points against teams towards our end of the table, we really ought to be beating these. I'll be disappointed if we aren't at least the better side in a draw.

Stoke City (H) (19th)

  • This is a team we really should be beating. Stoke have lost 23 times from 33 matches so far and look set for an instant return to the Championship. Despite a recent 1-0 home win against Arsenal, they have been dismal away from home of late, picking up just one point from their last five games on the road. There's every chance they'll already be down by this point, as they sit 13 points adrift with five games to go and I'll be furious with anything less than a win.

Arsenal (A) (7th)

  • We've not played at the Emirates since early last season, when we were new to the league and trying not to get beat by a lot of teams. We are now in a commanding position and have comfortably beaten Arsenal twice at Elland Road since then and with the run of fixtures we have, should go to the capital in good form. Arsenal are currently some way off threatening to finish in the top four and it should be a game that we have every chance of winning. Even if we lose, I at least expect it to be respectable and for us to match their performance.

Chelsea (H) (5th)

  • Arguably the only real contender for a spot in the top four that currently sit outside of it, I'm expecting a tough game from Chelsea. They've not been to Elland Road since the first home game of last season, again when we were fresh-faced newbies. They've taken ten points from their last five away games, so they're not to be taken lightly and I would be quite happy with a point against them.


That's it from me for now, I'll be back at the end of the season. I'm expecting at least nine points from the last five games. Top four would constitute an extemely successful season for us, whilst the title would be a miracle. If we finish between 5th and 7th, it'll be a gutting shame that we dropped off so late on, but a success nonetheless given our expectations back in August.
A decent set of results again that keep you within the top four. I'm particularly impressed with the response to getting thrashed by Liverpool, deservedly or not, against Wolves. Such a response shows the strength of this team mentally. It's bound to go right to the wire but there are a few games there that are, you would think, easy points. There's no such thing in football though but I fancy your chances nonetheless.
That run of United, Spurs, City then Liverpool is a horrific set of fixtures and I think it showed with the Liverpool result how much the side had put into the run. Despite not looking like a 5-1 game, tiredness leading to a lack of concentration clearly set in from set pieces which is a shame. However, the run in isn't as bad as it could be especially those first three games that could easily be nine points. Will be interesting to see if the final top 4 place goes down to the final game. I hope not!

THE RUN-IN 2021/22


RESULTS


Leeds United 2-3 Leicester City

Yussuf Poulsen 18
Kalvin Phillips 31
Yussuf Pulsen 38
James Justin 82
Leandro Cabrera o.g. 87


So you know what I said about Leicester's indifferent season? Feel free to completely disregard that. We were awful in the final third, with the wingers wasting a vast majority of our chances. Seferovic hardly got a sniff as those were supposed to give him the ball were screwing it wide of the goal themselves. They broke away a small handful of times and put three goals past us. A harsh lesson learned.

Everton 0-2 Leeds United

Haris Seferovic pen 5
Xadas 72


We got away with this one. For much of the game, we were caught out by long balls over the top but were let off by wasteful finishing. A lapse in concentration got us our penalty and we caught them out from a free kick routine. The introduction of McTominay in the second half gave us a lot more steel and energy, making us better able to cope with their quick turnovers and allow us back into the game stats-wise.

Leeds United 1-0 Stoke City

Xadas pen 69


One of my predictions when previewing the run-in came true: Stoke were already down before they came to Elland Road. A nice afternoon bagging against a team that had had enough and just wanted to go home? Absolutely not. If Stoke had defended half as well as they did against us in this game, they'd be well clear of the bottom three. The fact that one lapse in concentration in the box is what it took to turn the game says a lot about how hard we found it to break them down. There was just no space behind the edge of the D and we really struggled to break through, they parked the bus and very nearly got away with it.

Arsenal 0-0 Leeds United


We didn't try to play defensively, this was just a by-product of how strong Arsenal were in this one. We had a hard time getting out of our own half at times and had it not been for a combination of good defending and woeful finishing, we'd have been absolutely battered here. We need a lot more quality in the middle if we're to compete in Europe.

Leeds United 2-1 Chelsea

Haris Seferovic 10
Ousmane Dembele 27
Haris Seferovic 42


So this was it. I half expected this. On the final day of the season, it came down to two places up for grabs between three teams. Chelsea (3rd on 74 points) faced a trip to play us (4th on 73 points), whilst Liverpool (5th on 71 points) took on Tottenham. Liverpool had a superior goal difference to Chelsea, meaning our visitors needed at least a point to qualify.

They lost. They probably had the better chances too but just couldn't take them. Haris Seferovic came up with two big moments on his return from an ankle to secure Champions League football for next season. They became a lot easier to play against once I dropped our wingers deeper as previously, our defence didn't have an out ball and was struggling with Chelsea coming straight back at us.

LEAGUE TABLE



So that's it. Finished. All wrapped up. Champions League football, signed, sealed and delivered. There may be an argument to be had that we've overachieved this season and shouldn't expect the same next year. I'd go along with that to a certain extent, although if we weren't challenging for European football in one way or another in years to come, I'd be disappointed. This isn't the pinnacle, there's a lot more for this club to achieve. We fell away from our surprise title challenge in the end, with our fierce rivals Man Utd taking their first title in nine years- their first of the post-Ferguson era. As for other sides in the divison, the blue half of Manchester will be disappointed to have not taken the crown once again, after having such a commanding lead earlier in the season; Brighton fell away as expected although I can't shake the feeling they'll still be delighted with 7th; and Everton will be playing in the English second tier for the first time since 1954, an outstanding failure given they still have the likes of Richarlison and Sigurdsson at the club.

STAR PLAYER



I was tempted to go with Seferovic, but I think the time has come to recognise the contribution of Xadas. In these past five games, he has scored two and assisted one, on top of his two assists at Wolves immediately prior. He's quite an assuming winger, who the opposition only ever seem to notice is there when it's too late and that tendency to just fly under the radar is an underrated trait in a winger. He's grown into this side as the season has rumbled on and I reckon he could be a big player for us next year.


That's all from me for now. The next one is the big summer update so it may take a while to put out. Thanks for reading and for your comments, it spurs me on and makes this all worth it. We're all going on a European tour...
Strange month where you seemed to be fortunate at times and not quite clinical in others but you were impressive enough to get some massive results. In particular you held your bottle against Chelsea to clinch Champions League football and that is massive. The summer is going to be a big one with the club needing a fw additions to make anything in Europe, looking forward to seeing who you actually sign. A great season, congratulations.
Congratulations on securing Champions League football next season. Against all the odds, you have managed it! A fantastic season but certainly, as you say, not the pinnacle. This is only the beginning and you'll be keen to prove that next season by not just competing in Europe, but having a real go and looking to be in and around that top four once again!
Great win against Chelsea for the CL spot! Superb for your just second season in PL!
Welcome to the first of a two-part summer update. In this part, we'll preview the previous season and go through transfers and friendlies. The second part will be a run through the first few fixtures and we will also preview the Champions League group stage. Without any further ado...

SUMMER 2022 PART ONE


2021/22 REVIEW





















TRANSFERS


IN








OUT













FRIENDLIES







NEW KITS 2022/23



There are few variants you can make on the home shirt for a team that play in all white. The take this year is to take the trim off the ends of the sleeves to give it a slightly cleaner look (there really isn't much in the way of gimmick-free Adidas designs on Smart Shirt Designer 2). Our away kit sees us return to the traditional yellow, with a blue pinstripe going through the badge whilst the third kit is an attempted throwback to the blue kit sported by the club between 2001 and 2003, Wilcox and Mills' screamers at Bolton away anyone?


That's all for this one, thanks for reading along and part 2 should be with you very soon...
Some decent business once again. A lot of money spent on Valery. He will have to justify that quickly!
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Some interesting moves, in particular Valery and Kamara. However, both are young with a decent amount of potential who could prove to be more than worth what was paid. Very impressive move for Edouard as well who I think could solve your goalscoring issues. Nice profit on Harrison as well, all in all a great summer of business.
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I was going to do part 2 straight after part 1 yesterday but didn't quite get around to it. Here goes this morning's summer update...

SUMMER 2022 PART TWO


OPENING FIXTURES


Leeds United 3-0 Brighton & Hove Albion

Ebere Eze 69
Kalvin Phillips 72
Alfie McCalmont 86



Rather bizarrely, this is the second season in a row that we've played Brighton at home on the opening day. Most of our business in the summer involved signing backup players and young prospects and with Odsonne Edouard not fully fit yet, Yan Valery was our only debutant in the starting XI. We also face an early start with our first game falling in July, with the English football calendar being re-jigged to accomodate the winter World Cup in Qatar. We went one better on last season's opener and got three goals this time, in a game we dominated from start to finish. We absolutely played them off the park and they couldn't get near us. Alfie McCalmont scored goal of the month with an incredible first time strike into the top corner from 25 yards to wrap up the three points for us. A great start.

AFC Bournemouth 1-0 Leeds United

Dominic Solanke 32


Despite dominating the first half an hour, we fell behind to a goal on the counter which to be fair to Dominic Solanke, was taken beautifully. From that point, Bournemouth grew into the game and as they started to sit off again towards the end, the chances we were creating were no more than half chances. A missed opportunity, this one, a game that could've ended so differently if we'd not insisted on making it so hard for ourselves.

Leeds United 3-0 Crystal Palace

Razvan Marin 9
Carles Perez 35
Carles Perez 61



Having battered their rivals from Sussex (don't ask how a team just north of Brighton became 'local rivals' with a team from Croydon), we were due to face newcomers- or if we're being pedantic, instant returners- Crystal Palace at Elland Road. We battered these 3-0 as well, dominating for the whole 90 and coming away with a result that didn't flatter us in the slightest. Carles Perez seems to enjoy a goal against the Eagles, having scored four in the three games he's played against them since he signed for us.

Sheffield United 1-2 Leeds United

Alfie McCalmont 49
Kostas Tsimikas 55
Jesse Lingard 61


A week on from our hammering of Palace, we were to face another promotee in a trip to Bramall Lane, to face Ralph Hasenhuttl's Sheffield United. It's a game we completely dominated and the final score did flatter the hosts quite a bit. We were in full control of the game with another strike from outside the box from McCalmont and a beautifully worked team goal resulting a fierce volley from Tsimikas. But we got sloppy and midway through the second half, we gave away possession quite cheaply, allowing burgeoning young talent Jesse Lingard a run on goal to slot it past ex-Blades keeper Zack Steffen. They didn't trouble us after that and we had learned our lesson, but we didn't create an awful lot after that.

Tranmere Rovers 0-1 Leeds United
Carabao Cup Third Round

Jake Cain off 57
Ebere Eze 84


I'm not too concerned that we only won this by one. We were never in danger of losing the tie and my starting XI consisted mostly of players that needed match fitness. It took the introducton of Eze- the red card only made Tranmere go more compact- to finally break the deadlock and put us into the next round. We got what we came for without being humiliated.

Leeds United 2-3 Burnley

Odsonne Edouard 11
Ousama Idrissi 20
Razvan Marin 22
Lois Openda 29
Josh Brownhill 38


The first result of the season that's genuinely annoyed me (you'l find out why Bournemouth didn't bother me too much shortly). We absolutely dominated this game and it wasn't as if we didn't take chances- although admittedly 21 shots with 10 on target should've been enough to score three or more- but our defence just didn't do its job. All I ask of our defence in each game is to push up and deal with any breaks, reduce them to sighters. Nacho and Phillips were hooked off before half-time, with their passive displays really not helping us keep Burnley at bay and we've been punished for it.

LEAGUE TABLE



You know how I said the Bournemouth defeat didn't bother me too much? JUST LOOK HOW THEY'VE STARTED. They have the best defensive record so far and only we have scored more than them and they've also battered Arsenal 4-1. I expect they'll fall away eventually but we've just fallen victim to a deceptively incredible start from the Cherries. As for us, I'll take being surprise top scorers at this point and we're definitely up the right end of the table. It's a solid start that's given us a platform to push on and challenge for top four again.

PLAYER OF THE MONTH



There were questions asked when we paid just shy of £30m for Valery but he's proving to be worth every penny so far. We needed a right-back that can contribute at the other end and he's nailing it so far, chipping in with two assists, 10 key passes and a 90% pass completion rate. He's also made an incredible contribution at the back with an impressive 23 successful tackles of the 24 he's attempted so far. He's made a fantastic start in a position where quality can be difficult to quantify, but long may it continue.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE PREVIEW



We've probably been handed one of the hardest possible groups for our first Champions League campaign in 22 years. I'd say we have the hardest group for all-round quality of the other three teams compared to ours, but the group of death is going on in group B, which has seen Liverpool, Dortmund, Ajax and Monaco all drawn together. Let's meet our fellow Group F-ers:

Barcelona

  • Arguably the toughest team of the group, Barcelona come into this as Spanish champions. Lionel Messi still hasn't decided he's had enough yet and is still there, dspite fading away a bit over the past couple of years. We need to be more concerned about their wide pairing of Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, we're in for a rough couple of nights against these.

Napoli

  • The latest pet project of Jose Mourinho, Napoli had an impressive season last year finishing 2nd in Serie A. As usual, Juventus stole the headlines by finishing on 95 points, but Napoli were the next best side on 83. They've got a potent front four in their 4-2-3-1 set-up, with Lorenzo Insigne, Mikel Oyarzabal and Ricardo Esgaio being the three behind striker M'Baye Niang. Other notable players in the side include Luke Shaw at left-back, signed from Man Utd for £11.5m in the summer after a loan spell last season.

Borussia Monchengladbach

  • "Give me a B..." Mostly unassuming most years, Gladbach did well for themselves last year, finishing 2nd in the Bundesliga and making the final of the inaugural Europa League II, losing out to Leicester City. They're probably the team that I fancy us against most in this group, with no stand-out world class players, although these tend to be the teams we slip up against so we'll have to be on our guard.

In summary, I think we'll be lucky to make the knockout stages, but if we were to miss out, I'll accept nothing less than third place which will at least give us a stab at the Europa League.



That's all from me for now. I'm weighing up whether or not to do a Christmas update or if I should do it earlier, given how many fixtures we've got between now and then.
A decent start to the season even with the Burnley loss. Bournemouth's fantastic start certainly makes your loss to them feel that bit more understandable. Valery is keen to prove me wrong and make me look silly whilst your Champions League group looks to be a very tough ask for you to overcome. I think a third-place finish would be a decent outcome.
Some interesting transfers after securing Pellegri last window - now the France starlet Eduard only for 13M is another great piece of business.

You could have started and be on the top of the league with this kind of schedule, however not a bad month at all. Just missed chance.

The CL group is really tough, hopefully you will get at least the third place.

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