By Craig Scott

26th Oct, 2023 | 4:10pm

Ethan Ampadu unexpectedly rotten in Leeds United defeat v Stoke City as worrying Illan Meslier detail emerges

Ethan Ampadu had what was arguably his worst performance for Leeds United on Wednesday night as they lost away at Stoke City.

All the talk and all the headlines have been about Patrick Bamford missing a penalty just minutes before Pascal Struijk’s own goal won the game for the Potters on 25 October.

However, not much has been said about how almost all of Leeds’ starters let the fans down with their performances at the Bet365 Stadium.

Ampadu’s performance was unexpectedly rotten.

The former Chelsea midfielder has without a doubt been one of Leeds’ best players this season.

Before the trip to Stoke, Robbie Savage raved about the Wales international for his performances this season in an interview with TeamTalk.

“Ethan Ampadu – I am a huge fan of his,” Savage said. “He’s been out on loan a few times but now he’s got his permanent move to Leeds and I think for the money they paid – and £7m is the figure suggested – it’s an absolute bargain for Leeds United – one of the signings of the season. The way Daniel Farke wants to play is perfect to get the best out of him.

“I know he plays in that defensive midfield role with the likes of Glen Kamara and Archie Gray to compliment him, so the dynamic of that midfield drives them forward.”

Savage is spot on, to be fair. However, Ampadu wasn’t partnered by either Kamara or Gray at Stoke as Farke named Ilia Gruev in his starting line-up for the first time since his summer move from Werder Bremen.

That could be one of the reasons why Ampadu failed to perform.

According to stats by WhoScored, Ampadu had just 54 touches of the ball in his 90 minutes on the pitch.

Attacker Georginio Rutter had more (53), as did goalkeeper Illan Meslier (67).

It’s very odd to see a goalkeeper being more involved in the match when his team is in possession than a midfielder – especially a team’s star midfielder.

Ampadu’s passing radar was also off at Stoke as he completed just 34 of the 45 he attempted (76%). He also failed with the only dribble he attempted, won only one tackle and didn’t intercept the ball once.

Ampadu’s got to improve but he can be forgiven for one bad day at the office when, overall, he’s been a stellar performer for the Whites in the Championship since his arrival in the summer.

However, he cannot slip into a rut at this stage because the Whites finally got their season underway in September and October and losing their form now will be a huge blow ahead of a jam-packed festive schedule.

In other Leeds United news, this Leeds star told captain Struijk to stop Bamford taking his penalty against Stoke.