The Leeds United ‘Goals Against’ column now reads 64 after Aston Villa stuck three past them on Thursday night and bet365 now make the Whites a 4/1 chance to concede 90 this season – a tally that would surpass the 89 recorded by Derby in the 2007/08 campaign.
After Jesse Marsch’s appointment, Leeds were 6/1 to break Derby’s record, but that’s been cut after shipping four more goals across his first two games, with them currently on course to concede 87.
Leeds may have double the points that Derby had during that wretched season, but they’re in danger of surpassing their goals against total if the defending against Villa is anything to go by.
There may only be 10 games left, but three of those are against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal, and as we’ve seen in recent weeks, Leeds are no strangers to a flogging by the big boys.
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There’s no doubt the Elland Road outfit have once again been hampered by injuries; Kalvin Phillips – so crucial to Leeds’ impressive season back in the Premier League last term – hasn’t played since December.
Patrick Bamford has spent most of the season injured, and it’s not just his goals Leeds have missed. His pressing from the front was a key part of Bielsa’s tactics, and has been replaced in a makeshift forward in the form of Dan James.
Robin Koch’s struggles for fitness have continued; he missed three months of last season and he’s missed four months of this.
Diego Llorente has had more luck with injuries than he did on his debut season in England, as has Pascal Struijk.
The Belgian missed chunks of the early part of last season and occasionally had to deputise in midfield, and his absence in the heart of the Leeds defence was felt; the Yorkshire side conceded around 1.5 goals per game with him in defence, and more than two goals a game with him not.
But Bielsa couldn’t use that as an excuse this season. While Struijk did miss December and the first half of January, his return coincided with the form that saw Bielsa get the sack, with Leeds conceding 27 goals in just nine games.
There were positives to take from the defeat at Leicester; Leeds looked like the home side for much of the game and but for the impressive performance of Kasper Schmeichel, Jesse Marsch’s side wouldn’t have taken just one point but all three.
They recorded 30 touches in the area (only Liverpool and Manchester City average more), and restricted the Foxes to 21 (only five teams average fewer), but it took just one touch from Harvey Barnes to settle the game.
Frustrating, no doubt, but reassuring certainly, that Leeds had seemingly tightened up at the back, the main objective and reason for switching managers, without compromising their attacking intent.
But the display against Villa was everything Leeds need to avoid. Porous at the back and toothless going forward, the Whites hardly had a sniff of the Aston Villa goal, while shipping three, and even the introduction of Bamford, while welcome, didn’t improve things.
Their xGA for the game may have only been 1.4, but it’s now six straight defeats, and just one point from their last eight.
A huge game against Norwich awaits as Leeds look to put some breathing room between themselves and the bottom three, but the showing against Steven Gerrard’s side had the look of a side very much in a relegation battle.
Leeds to concede 90+ Premier League goals - 4/1
By Steve Freeth
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