MOT View: Key talent is surely major weak link that Leeds can exploit in clash v Sheff United
If there’s one thing Leeds United have brought to the Premier League so far this season, it’s goals.
The Whites have been irresistible in the final third, striking seven times in their first two top flight matches of the campaign.
And that should worry Sheffield United.
The two Yorkshire clubs meet on Sunday, with the Blades having failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last five Premier League outings.
Chris Wilder’s men have lost all of those games, and with Leeds in such a rampant mood at the moment, you would fancy them to smell blood going into this one.
One of the biggest changes that has happened at Bramall Lane this summer is the departure of loanee goalkeeper Dean Henderson, and the subsequent arrival of Aaron Ramsdale.
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Of course, it would be unfair to lay the blame of United’s opening two defeats this term solely at the door of the ex-Bournemouth man, but certainly, there has been a notable drop-off in the standard of goalkeeping at the club.
Last season, Henderson faced an xCG of 1.02, but conceded just 0.86 per game, as per Wyscout.
By contrast, Ramsdale has faced an xG of just 0.83, but is conceding 1.24 goals per game.
Those underwhelming numbers come in spite of the fact that he is 1.17 fewer shots per game.
And the second goal that Ramsdale conceded against Wolves recently was a prime example of the fine margins that are holding him back and preventing him from matching Henderson’s impressive form from last season.
Romain Saiss’ headed goal had an xG of just 0.12, meaning you would expect the Blades keeper to stop it nearly nine out of 10 times.
As the Wanderers man rises to meet a floated corner, Ramsdale’s positioning is actually pretty good.
Moreover, his line of sight is unobscured, and because of the way that he has set up his defence, he doesn’t have to worry about colliding with a covering defender on his goal line.
In short, it will either take an error or a wonderful header for him to be beaten.
Unfortunately for him, it’s predominantly the former.
If we compare the moment that the contact is made to the moment that Ramsdale actually begins to try and stop the shot, we notice a small, but ultimately crucial, mistake.
The keeper takes a step to his left, toward the centre of the goal, but away from where the ball his headed.
Not only does this alter his position, but it also means that his weight his shifted onto his left foot.
That means that he has to readjust himself to get back across towards the flight of the shot.
Even at this stage, however, it is a salvageable situation.
Saiss’ effort is marked as number three on the graphic above.
If we look at where it ends up hitting the back of the net, it is still central enough for Ramsdale to react effectible.
But the biggest issue here is that he fails to account for the leftwards motion that he has already made prior to recognising the danger.
The keeper attempts to push off into a dive, but doesn’t step back across to maximise his reach, nor is he able to get any kind of meaningful propulsion from his right leg because of the aforementioned shifting of his weight.
The result is a feeble dive that ultimately leads to a pretty poor goal conceded.
Based on this, you would have to argue that Ramsdale’s failings so far this term have not been huge howlers or anything that is going to jeopardise his place in the starting XI.
Instead, they have been a combination of minor mistakes that have cost him.
It’s the fine margins that make a difference in the Premier League, and Leeds will be hoping to exploit those tiny increments to make major strides on Sunday.
In other Leeds United news, ‘Gulp’, ‘This might just be happening’ – Many Leeds fans excited by Di Marzio transfer update.