Mark Lawrenson has admitted he’s unconvinced by Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier ahead of their clash against West Ham on Friday night.
Meslier, 20, emerged as Leeds’ first-choice goalkeeper after Kiko Casilla was hit with a ban for racism earlier this year and has retained his spot in the side after winning promotion to the Premier League.
The Frenchman, who was bought permanently from Lorient in the summer after a successful loan spell, has conceded 20 goals in his 11 Premier League appearances this season and kept four clean sheets.
Meslier’s young and still learning the trade but Lawrenson has – rather harshly in our opinion – has singled out the 20-year-old for criticism ahead of Leeds’ clash with West Ham on Friday.
Leeds welcome the Hammers to Elland Road off the back of both teams losing last weekend.
Even though Liverpool legend Lawro has his doubts about Meslier, he’s still tipping the French youngster to keep a clean sheet and predicts Leeds to win 2-0 against David Moyes’ side.
“West Ham were unlucky to be beaten by Manchester United last weekend because they could have put that game to bed before the visitors’ comeback,” Lawrenson wrote on the BBC Sport website.
“That was the end of a good little run of three successive wins for the Hammers, and I’m not sure they will bounce back here.
“Leeds have got a little bit of a soft centre defensively, and I am not convinced by their goalkeeper, Illan Meslier, but going forward they are just relentless.”
Harsh and unnecessary criticism by Lawro
Leeds have enough weaknesses about them to start pointing fingers at the goalkeeper.
It’s a cop-out and you can tell Lawrenson used to be a defender back in the day because if a team is conceding goals, it’s not the defender’s fault, it’s the goalkeeper’s.
We’re not going to say that Meslier has been outstanding this season or anything like that but he’s a young goalkeeper playing in the Premier League for the first time for a team that is so attack-minded that it concedes a lot of chances.
According to WyScout, Leeds have the second-highest xGA in the Premier League [23.65] while Marcelo Bielsa’s men also have the third-worst defensive record by conceding 20 goals. Straight away, those stats show that the Whites have conceded fewer goals than they should have done so far this season.
As for Meslier, West Brom’s Sam Johnstone  is the only goalkeeper to have faced more shots than him in the top-flight  while the Leeds number one also ranks fifth for prevented goals [2.38], above shot-stoppers like Edouard Mendy, Lukasz Fabianski and Alex McCarthy.
Lawrenson can pick faults with Leeds – we have no issues with that – but singling out Meslier is very harsh in our opinion when the reason why he’s faced so many shots this season is down to the players in front of him and Bielsa’s system rather than his own shortfalls.
In other Leeds United news, this West Ham star is a big doubt for Friday night.