Although some lazy analysis on the part of Sky Sports has managed to weave and cement it’s way into the discourse following Leeds’ 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest, the headline that Leeds Were Made To Rue Missed Chances is far from the exact story.
The problem itself was not in the finishing or completion of chances, but rather in the creation of chances, good ones. Our fabled manager in his post-match press conference admitted “we didn’t have a clear connection with crossing & the player who needs to finish. At the same time we had four in the box. It might be something to improve.”
This is an issue that doesn’t lie at the door of Patrick Bamford, who by all accounts had one of his better games in a Leeds shirt today, but those in the bank behind him. Namely, Mateusz Klich, Jack Harrison and in some respects Pablo Hernandez.
Whilst Leeds, as ever, dominated possession, there was a distinct lack of clear cut opportunities where a finisher could reasonably be expected to complete the routine. Though Leeds were stymied in part by Forest’s low block, it perhaps highlights the seriousness of not having an out and out number 10 and why now we see that Marcelo Bielsa was particularly keen to bring Ryan Kent to Elland Road and mould him into that very position. Some might say, a Samu Saiz shaped hole exists in Leeds’ attack. Still.
On the crossing front, Leeds were left clueless. Jack Harrison and Ezgjan Alioski continued last season’s tradition of struggling to beat the first man. Pablo Hernandez showed glimpses but was largely frozen out of the game by the Forest shape which was to be expected. Mateusz Klich’s off the ball movement will always provide a chance for others to do their business, but for a player being asked to play behind the striker there is simply not enough on the ball action. The Jamie Shackleton substition that never was could have given Leeds the midfielder, who will simply carry the ball up the pitch in a more attacking manner, they were severely lacking throughout.
The data provided by Infogol here paints a startling picture. Numerous chances had by Leeds, but several with a very low probability of conversion.
So the question that will haunt Bielsa’s sleep tonight is how to convert so many touches in the final third into chances that arrive at Patrick Bamford’s feet where muscle memory ensures they find the back of the net.
Leeds found some purchase with the introduction of Helder Costa late on, a break down the right brought to a halt by a tactical foul by the Forest full-back may well have been the moment Leeds were consigned to just a point today. It can’t be too long before he’s rewarded with a starting spot.
But enough about the referee, eh.