Bielsa’s Boys Back on Top

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Image Credit: [BBC]

Wednesday night saw Swansea City travel across the Pennines to face Leeds United.

On Wednesday night, Leeds United faced Swansea City at an electric Elland Road. However, in recent weeks, both teams have had issues off the field overshadow their football, with Spygate still looming over Bielsa and the resignation of Huw Jenkins as City’s chairman. 

The club later issued a statement citing concerns
over their recruitment policy. Some have speculated that this may be connected with winger Dan James’ failed loan move to Leeds, in which a medical was completed only for the Welsh side to pull out of the deal at the last minute. There were even rumours that Swansea simply refused to pick up Leeds’ calls to torpedo the deal.

Regardless, United’s form has taken a dip in 2019, with the team managing only three victories since the New Year and only one after the controversial Derby game – a 2-1 win at Rotherham, in which the details behind Spygate were revealed. Despite all this, Leeds were still within touching distance of leaders Norwich, who were only two points ahead of them.

Swansea, on the other hand, were looking to get themselves closer to a playoff spot and back into the Premier League, in which they have resided for the last seven years.

The match had an added dimension too, since Dan James was starting for the Swans, who was so close to becoming a Leeds player on deadline day. However, it was the home side that struck first on the 20th minute through birthday boy Pontus Jansson from a corner that the Swans failed to clear properly.

Both teams had chances following the opener, with United having Roofe’s shot going wide and Swansea captain van der Hoorn failing to connect from a set piece. However, it was Leeds that managed to grab the second goal through Jack Harrison, heading home an Ezgjan Alioski cross to put the hosts up 2-0 after 34 minutes.

Chances were few and far between for the travelling team in the second half, but Matt Grimes gave United a shock when his deflected free kick hit the post just after half time. James’ appearance came to a rather tame end with the manager choosing to substitute him after 67 minutes, with his would be team keeping the winger relatively quiet throughout the game.

In the end, Swansea were unable to salvage a point at Elland Road despite Luke Ayling gifting a penalty to the away side in the 89th minute. Oli McBurnie slotted it past the keeper, but it was ultimately too late to mount a comeback.

Bielsa was somewhat disappointed with the result, saying: “We deserved to win. It’s hard to understand that we only won by one goal because we dominated the game and had many chances.”

Although Norwich’s loss to Preston played a part in Leeds taking the top spot, it was a good result for the home side, and something that Bielsa will hope to build upon to regain the late 2018 form that saw Leeds climb to the top of the table. On the other hand, Swansea will hope to regroup and make a push for a playoff spot in order to return to the top flight where fellow Welsh rivals Cardiff currently reside.

Leeds’ upcoming fixtures are:

• Leeds vs Bolton (home) 23/02 @ 3pm

• Leeds vs QPR (away) 26/02 @ 7.45pm

• Leeds United vs West Brom (home) 01/03 @ 7.45pm

• Leeds United vs Bristol City (away) 09/03 @ 3pm

Ryan Wan