Leeds v Crystal Palace

Ben Fitzpatrick, is a member of the YCL’s Birmingham branch

Leeds 2 – Crystal Palace 0
Monday, 8 February 2021

A bit of a different look to a gameweek ending feature match this time as a Leeds United team on a hot streak hosted Crystal Palace at Elland Road. Leeds, who were looking to make it three wins in four, had a chance to break into the top ten if they managed to bag the three points against a Palace team that had won their last two.

One of the most notable pieces of team news before kick off was the absence of club top goalscorer Wilfried Zaha. The striker sustained a hamstring injury in their 2-1 win against Newcastle and, according to manager Roy Hodgson in his pre-match press conference, his availability “could be much longer” than just this fixture. It did, however, grant new signing Jean-Philippe Mateta his Premier League debut. Leeds, meanwhile, named an unchanged squad.

Leeds were the ones to start the brightest and were ahead early through a shot from Jack Harrison. His strike, which took a wicked deflection off Gary Cahill, went up and over goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and into the back of the net for the quick 1-0 lead. Patrick Bamford was also extremely lively in the first half, racking up some good chances to put his side two to the good. His best chance came from some textbook Leeds pressing, forcing a stray pass in the middle of the park. The forward latched onto the ball and drove into the box only to sky his shot after trying to place it in the far corner. Still, good signs for Leeds nonetheless.

Bamford would eventually have his second during the second half. Mateusz Klich slid a well weighted ball through to Raphina whose shot was parried by Guiata. Bamford was alert to it and pounced on the rebound for career goal number 100 for a forward whose suitability was questioned before the start of the season. He has undoubtedly proved himself netting his 12th in the league. Harrison almost had himself a brace but his 84th minute effort rocketed off the crossbar and over.

In another dominant performance by Bielsa’s men, Leeds have successfully broken into the top ten. They are set to face the team just behind them in 11th, Arsenal, on Sunday. The loss for Palace keeps them in 13th and level on points with Southampton. They host Burnley at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Ben Fitzpatrick

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