Leeds Need To Play To The Strengths Of New Striker

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Patrick Gunn
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There are many challenges that appear when reporting on football games. Repetition should always be avoided when necessary, as should cliche, although it was always hard to summarise Steve Morison without the word "shift" somewhere...

When, like me, you write about your own team, it's also important to maintain a modicum of impartiality, you don't want to spew a load of toss about how Leeds are, without question, the greatest team in the world and any loss they suffer is the result of a complex conspiracy fuelled by hatred from rival teams, the Football League, and the referees (even though we all know it's true) and, of course, repetition should always be avoided when necessary.

Another challenge that presents itself now and again, is the task of making a 0-0 draw, in which nobody was sent off, no penalties were turned down, and no one bitch-slapped an opposing team's mascot, sound interesting.

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get a 0-0 filled with controversy and action, easily turned into an entertaining match report as you delve into the close-calls and tactical intricacies that made the game unbreakable. Yesterday's draw with Reading didn't have any of that. Instead, we got two teams that are currently lacking in creativity that struggled to break each other down in any meaningful way.

If anything, the most exciting moment of the match came in the 2nd minute, when the Leeds defence was caught short by a through ball to Hal Robson-Kanu. The Welsh international beat Sol Bamba to the ball right on the edge of the area, and was subsequently bundled over by the lunging Leeds captain.

Later in the game, or perhaps with a different referee overseeing things, Bamba would have been off. Robson-Kanu was almost through on goal, and Bamba looked to be close to the last man in the Leeds defence. Reading boss Steve Clarke seemed fairly un-ruffled after the game, but Uwe Rosler admitted later that his captain had gotten away with one. Despite Clarke's casual response to the decision, Leeds could certainly consider themselves on the lucky side. Without Bamba for nearly 90 minutes, the game could have swung very differently.

In my preview of the game, I concluded with a hopeful prediction of 0-0, considering the effects of Thursday's League Cup exit to Doncaster Rovers. In the midst of a hectic two-week period, which now moves on to Bristol on Wednesday, before Wednesday at home on Saturday (it make sense, honest), a point and a clean sheet after a long trip to Reading can, I reckon, be considered a positive.

The performances of Kalvin Phillips, making his first appearance this season, Charlie Taylor and Liam Cooper were applauded by many, Cooper especially given that most fans were surprised to see him included after Bellusci's performance on Thursday. Rosler's post-match interview suggested that Cooper was favoured due to his recovery from the midweek game, rather than the respective form of the two centre-backs. There was also an impressive return from Tom Adeyemi, who once again provided a strong presence in front of the defence. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough up at the other end of the field to reward Adeyemi & co. for their defensive performances.

It appears the League Cup exertion had taken its toll on the Leeds frontline, Mowatt and Byram cutting tired, quiet portraits of their usual selves, while Chris Wood struggled again in a position that seems to suit him less and less as time goes on. It's still early days as far as the season goes, but Wood will feel as if he hasn't had a chance to show his true quality just yet. Too many balls were pinged up the field to a striker who likes the ball at his feet, rather than flying at his head, while Mowatt was clearly too tired to get up from central midfield to support him. Antenucci, as I predicted, was brought on late in the second half, but was unable to turn the tide as Leeds managed merely one shot on target.

Wednesday's trip to Bristol could give Rosler a chance to experiment slightly with a team lacking in creativity. City have lost both of their opening league games and will be without Luke Freeman in their midfield after his dismissal in Saturday's game against Brentford, which could provide the perfect opportunity to adopt an attacking style, possibly with Antenucci alongside Wood up front.

Rosler may not have lost yet as Leeds manager (technically...) but he's yet to win either, and three points on Wednesday would put us in a great position moving forward. A good place to start would be playing to the strengths of our most obvious goal threat.

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