MOT View: Big win, Phillips yellow a blow – 3 things we learned from 4-0 v Boro
Five wins in a row and the pressure is back on West Brom as Leeds United go top again.
Slaven Bilic’s side is impressive at the moment but they travel to Preston on Monday and that’s going to be another stern test for them. Meanwhile, Leeds are flying and put an awful Middlesbrough to the sword on Saturday afternoon.
A freezing afternoon in Leeds was made a lot warmer by the sight of Eddie Nketiah about an hour before kick-off in his tracksuit. That was the clue and he was duly named on the bench for the first time since October.
If that put pressure on Patrick Bamford, it had a positive effect. He got the first after just three minutes when Pablo Hernandez found him with a cross.
Mateusz Klich got the second before half-time and Boro were so awful, the points were as good as safe as we enjoyed our half-time cup of tea.
It wasn’t all good news though – here are the three MOT talking points from Saturday’s game…
Phillips yellow is bad news
Kalvin Phillips has been sitting on four yellows since the Blackburn game and they would have been wiped at the end of this game. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get to the safety of the amnesty zone and picked up his fifth caution of the season in the first half against Middlesbrough. That’s really bad news and he’ll be suspended for the game against Huddersfield now. He’ll obviously be a miss, and Jamie Shackleton or Alfie McCalmont will have to step up now – perhaps even Ben White, after he moved up there for the last few minutes today. Phillips doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses but making the odd stupid challenge, like this one deep in the Boro half, is one of them.
Boro just what the doctor ordered
This is just what Leeds United needed. The league table wasn’t lying – Middlesbrough were awful… they offered nothing and Leeds ran rampant. The first half attack momentum graph is almost embarrassing.
We can’t remember seeing a half as one-sided as that for a long while.
After not scoring more than one at Elland Road for the first six home games, Leeds scored two in the previous two and got four today for the first time anywhere this season. Mateusz Klich was due a goal. His xG read 4 before this game while he’d put just one in the net. He got two today.
Helder Costa got his first in the Championship and the only thing that was missing was a late Nketiah strike. This game will have done Leeds the world of good.
Eddie is back!
Nketiah was on the bench and once the score got to 4-0 it was the perfect opportunity for the Arsenal loanee to get on for some minutes. He came on for Bamford with about 10 minutes to go and while he didn’t score, it was a huge relief to see him back in the white. Bielsa won’t be changing his side anytime soon, what with five wins in a row, but Nektiah can start making an impact off the bench again.
In other Leeds United news… Live from Thorp Arch: Nketiah returns – Leeds U23 player ratings v Sheff Utd