Elland Road was left extremely frustrated on Saturday afternoon as Leeds United failed to break down 10-man Preston North-End. Chris Wood saw his one-on-one effort brilliantly denied by Preston’s in-form goalkeeper Chris Maxwell.

Despite Maxwell thwarting Wood’s effort to earn the Lancashire club a well earned point, it was the away side who were in the ascendancy before Ben Pearson stupidly reduced his side to 10-men. Preston’s midfield three – Pearson, Daniel Johnson and Alan Browne dominated Kalvin Phillips and Eunan O’Kane in the centre of the park, and if Pearson hadn’t of succumbed to a second yellow card, Preston could have left Yorkshire having earned back-to-back league wins.

We are of course, only at the beginning of the season, but if Saturday was anything to go by, one of Leeds’ biggest problems could be their midfield. Despite his goals against Bolton Wanderers on the opening day, the young Kalvin Phillips, as well as Liam Bridcutt, lack the intensity, consistency and mainly the urgency needed for a team who want to finish in the play-off’s.

Eunan O’kane has earned his place in the team after a strong pre-season, but it’s still unclear who will partner the Irishman if he maintains his place in the team. Ronaldo Vieira looks a likely candidate, but at only 19-years of age, Vieira isn’t at the stage of his career where he can lead a promotion charge.

Leeds’ best option could come from the player they signed as cover for full-back. Former Newcastle United midfielder, Vurnon Anita, possess the energy and pace that would have matched Preston’s midfield on Saturday much better than Phillips or O’Kane. The Dutchman has played at Premier League level for the Toon Army and featured regularly last season in a Newcastle team who won the Championship.

One of Leeds’ biggest issues last season was the lack of quality in the centre of midfield, with Garry Monk continuously swapping between Phillips, Bridcutt, O’Kane and Vieira; never sure of his best two. Leeds’ lack of energy in midfield is still evident and Anita seems like the best option to solve that. Anita was very impressive against Bolton, rarely giving the ball away at left-back and quickly moving the ball forward with energy and intent – and his natural position is in the centre of the park.

New signing Mateusz Klich should also be given an opportunity. The Pole was left out of the squad on Saturday, but his strength could have been useful in a Leeds midfield that, at times, got bullied by Preston’s. Garry Monk and Middlesbrough made a late enquiry for Klich, so it would be baffling if he were to be ignored when fully fit, especially considering the uncertainty in Thomas Christiansen’s midfield at the moment.

Leeds have recruited well this transfer window, improving their attacking options with the technically gifted Samu saiz, and exciting winger Ezgjan Alioski, and Leeds’ season could hinge on their ability to adapt to the English game. The addition of another centre-back is also essential, as it would be a risk to replace Kyle Bartley with the inexperienced Matthew Pennington.

The Whites probably won’t go back into the market for another central-midfielder. And if that is the case, the versatile Vurnon Anita and Mateusz Klich could well be Leeds’ best options, if Christiansen is willing to give them a chance.

6 Responses

  1. Peter duval

    Vieria is the man – with Klich OKane and Bridcutt – I fail to see how Anita could feature there

    • JDC

      Sorry Peter, you clearly haven’t done any research on Anita … he has played far more games as a midfielder than as a defender, and he could certainly do a good job as the holding player, allowing O’Kane, Vieira, Klich or whoever his midfield partner is to be more forward looking.

      • Peter duval

        seen him mate and I would pick him over Phillips – can’t believe Vieria is out and he’s stuck with Phillips

  2. Gazza

    Anita is the man steady calm never loses the ball brought up with the Ajax way , he was excellent against Bolton we need a steady head in there

  3. Ron

    Anita was MOTM last night against Fulham. Very few teams will keep them scoreless this year and I thought Anita was outstanding. Thought Conor Shaunessy held his own also.

  4. Sport Forecasts

    Truly very irate we let him go. Somewhat insufficient in midfield in view of his size yet he’s a strong appropriate back, would reinforce basically any title safeguard imo .. I continue watching and analyzing the games on https://777score.com/. On the off chance that we sign Anita we should have one of the most grounded gatherings of full backs in the alliance with him joining Bera and Ayling.


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