Luke Ayling has been brilliant for Leeds United this season but his display against Brighton was one to forget.
The 29-year-old has been one of our most consistent players this term and his form even led Gareth Southgate to consider giving him an England call-up [The Guardian].
He has performed well in defence and provided the energy to support Raphinha and Helder Costa on the right flank.
Ayling may have missed those two against Brighton because he simply was not the player we all know and love.
To make things worse he was our captain due to the absence of Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips, but he did not put in the performance of a leader.
In fact, a poor lapse of concentration from Ayling resulted in a Brighton goal.
Danny Welbeck left both Ayling and Pascal Struijk for dead with a delightful Cryuff turn before firing past Illan Meslier.
The striker deserves credit for a brilliant bit of skill but Ayling should have been a lot tighter to Welbeck and more aware of the potential danger.
That incident summed up his game, as the defender never got going in either attack or defence.
Per SofaScore, the right-back failed to complete a single interception, clearance or block, so he was not much use in our own box.
It is little surprise Brighton were able to dominate so easily with 17 shots to our 11.
Unfortunately, we posed little threat going forward, which is perhaps understandable given the calibre of players we were missing.
But Ayling losing possession 24 times paints a picture of how sloppy we were throughout – Gjanni Alioski also did not cover himself in glory when he conceded the penalty.
Also, Ayling provided little quality in attack.
He received the ball in good positions and was able to produce four crosses, yet none found a teammate – five out of his six long passes were also cut out by the opposition.
We have come to expect better from Ayling, who Kevin Phillips called “outstanding” in March [Football Insider].
But knowing his character the defender will come back stronger and put this torrid showing behind him.
In other Leeds United news, Garth Crooks suffered an embarrassing Bamford blunder on BBC as Leeds lost to Brighton.