Opinion

Opinion: Inconsistent Leeds United player threatening to put Elland Road career back on track

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Image for Opinion: Inconsistent Leeds United player threatening to put Elland Road career back on track

Leeds United needed the performance of a lifetime from every player to get a result at Manchester City, and they got just that.

Stuart Dallas took the headlines with his breakaway double in either half as Leeds managed to shock the champions-elect on their own patch, but the performances of the rest of the team deserve similar amounts of credit.

The defence were monstrous in keeping out City throughout the game but credit has to go to how Leeds managed to break out from the back for both goals.

A key part of how Leeds stung Pep Guardiola’s side wouldn’t even have been in the starting lineup if Jack Harrison was eligible, and that’s Helder Costa.

How did he get on?

Costa was thrust into the starting lineup with a tough task of not only creating with limited supply throughout the game, but also to offer support to Gjanni Alioski as the hosts bombarded us in wide positions.

He helped limit City in our third but his contribution in attack was telling for Leeds.

The Portuguese winger had a hand in both goals as he got Leeds up the pitch for the opener when he got the better of compatriot Joao Cancelo before finding Patrick Bamford, who set up Dallas for the first goal.

With one ‘second assist’ under his belt, he had a similar impact for the winning goal when he controlled and dropped the ball off inside to Alioski, before the full-backs stunning through ball was met by Dallas.

It might not seem like much and it won’t count for anything in the winger’s stats for the season but he’s regularly having a hand in goals at the moment.

Clawing back his Leeds career

The signing of Raphinha was bound to call Costa’s Leeds career into question, with a similar fate falling before him that he suffered from at Wolves to lead him here.

Second-choice out wide and struggling to get any opportunities, the writing looked to be on the wall for Costa heading into 2021.

However, he’s reacted extremely well to Bielsa’s continued trust in him in recent months, all stemming from one mistake away at Arsenal.

Costa’s misuse of possession put Leeds 4-0 down away at the Emirates on Valentine’s Day, but his reaction to get on the scoresheet and show much more drive with the ball has been a huge boost for his Elland Road career.

He followed that up with an outstanding cameo off the bench against Southampton nine days later and he’s continued since then to show he’s still got a lot to offer.

What he’s needed to show this season to keep up with the levels shown by Harrison and Raphinha is consistency, and he’s doing that at the moment.

His future was in doubt here, but he’s fighting for his life now and proving to be a valuable asset to Bielsa and the squad as we look ahead to next season.

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Leeds United season ticket holder since 2013/14, currently situated in the middle of the FA5 noise. From Pablo Hernandez to 5-1 drubbings, I've seen it all at Elland Road.