Leeds 2-1 Sheff Utd
- Goals: Jack Harrison (£5.4m) | Ben Osborn (£4.7m)
- Own goals: Phil Jagielka (£3.9m)
- Assists: Raphinha (£5.7m), Harrison | Oli McBurnie (£5.6m)
- Bonus points: Harrison x3, Osborn x3, Raphinha x1, Aaron Ramsdale (£4.6m)
Calls for mass sales of Patrick Bamford (£6.7m) intensified on Saturday afternoon as he recorded a blank against Sheffield United.
Recording his sixth blank from a possible eight matches since Gameweek 24 is perhaps cause enough to look elsewhere but the fact it occurred in arguably the most favourable match of the season will not have helped matters.
Bamford’s Fantasy Premier League credentials had been slowly winding down in recent weeks anyway, with Gameweek 30’s blank the icing on the cake.
Between Gameweeks 1 and 23 this season, Bamford accrued a total of 130 points in 22 matches, working out at 5.9 points per game.
In the eight matches since Gameweek 24, he has posted just 28 points, at a rate of 3.5 points per game.
Not only is Bamford’s recent form poor enough to justify moving him on, especially for Gameweek 31 Wildcarders, but Leeds’ upcoming fixtures are also rather ominous.
Between Gameweeks 31 and 33 they face Manchester City (away), Liverpool (home) and Manchester United (home), three of the hardest fixtures in the Premier League calendar.
Gameweek 34 is arguably when Leeds’ schedule becomes more obliging with Brighton (away), Spurs (home), Burnley (away), Southampton (away) and West Bromwich Albion (home) between then and the end of the season.
RAPH WITH THE SMOOTH
While Bamford has experienced a dip in form, it is worth highlighting that Leeds were far from a poor side in their win over Sheffield United, which they dominated.
The Whites have now registered at least 20 shots in a Premier League game for the fifth time this season (23 in total), with only Manchester City doing so more often so far this term (six).
And, ahead of Leeds’ fixture swing, there was significantly more encouragement for Raphinha (£5.7m) owners in Gameweek 30 than Bamford backers.
It was the usual story for the Brazilian, who was the best player on the pitch by far, ran the show in terms of chances created although he had to make do with just six points based on the profligacy of his team-mates.
Raphinha provided an assist for Jack Harrison (£5.4m) in the first half, his second attacking return in as many matches and he could have had a seventh goal of the campaign had Phil Jagielka (£3.9m) not turned a second-half cross into his own net.
Meanwhile, Bamford, Ezgjan Alioski (£4.3m) and Stuart Dallas (£5.1m) both spurned fantastic chances created by Raphinha, who remains top of the Premier League for key passes over the last six matches.
It would be remiss of us not to point out Harrison’s impressive display, who has more attacking returns in Leeds’ last two matches than any colleague (three).
“The last two games he has had a bigger increase in his performance. Today he had a lot of influence. He was decisive and in the game against Fulham also. He is a player, when he manages to be at his best version, has an influence on our offensive game.” – Marcelo Bielsa
With Leeds’ ominous fixtures on the horizon, interest in their defenders is not expected to be high across the next three Gameweeks.
The fact they were breached by Sheffield United is sure to plague Fantasy managers holding representatives from the Whites’ back-line.
Ben Osborn‘s (£4.7m) first-half strike was just the Blades’ seventh away goal all season and their first since the 2-1 win at Manchester United in January.
Meanwhile, there appears to be some uncertainty creeping into the equation as far as defensive personnel are concerned too.
A return from injury for Liam Cooper (£4.3m) on Saturday meant Pascal Struijk (£4.0m) missed out on the starting XI for only the second time since Gameweek 15.
Such a decision was an eye-opening one considering Struijk has arguably been one of Leeds’ best centre-backs in recent months.
“Pascal played very well against Chelsea and Fulham. In the training this week I saw Cooper was at his best. Cooper is the type of player who doesn’t lose his sharpness even if he can’t train for one or two weeks. When we confirmed that he was still in this manner, I opted for him. The two games Pascal played would have also made him deserving of continuing.” – Marcelo Bielsa
Whether he will reclaim his place in subsequent matches is hard to predict considering that Bielsa now has a number of centre-backs available and appears unwilling to clarify which ones he prefers.
“All the centre-backs have had the chance to play. Koch then Llorente, Cooper and Pascal. Ayling when he had to play there, even at one point Phillips. All of them had a very good level. In a season so long, the three most defensive positions, the two centre-backs and DM, good to be able to count on five players. Also considering Pascal, Koch and Llorente can play as defensive midfielders.”
Sheffield United’s injury problems continued in brutal fashion in Gameweek 30.
George Baldock (£4.9m) and Jayden Bogle (£4.3m) both sustained a concussion at Elland Road and must now observe the relevant protocol.
“As soon as George reported any symptoms, we have to take him off. It’s the same with Jayden not long into the second half. We accept you can’t take any chances. We’re led by the medics now. That’s probably right. We’ll see (if they’re okay). Obviously, they’ve been concussed and there’s now further protocols to follow. They’re being assessed by the doctors and we’ll know more towards the end of the evening.” – Paul Heckingbottom
Leeds United XI: Meslier; Alioski, Cooper, Llorente, Ayling; K Phillips; Harrison, Dallas (Koch 90+3′), Roberts (Klich 81′), Raphinha; Bamford (Rodrigo 65′).
Sheffield United XI: Ramsdale; Stevens, Jagielka, Baldock (Ampadu 45′); Osborn, Fleck, Norwood (Burke 65′), Lundstram, Bogle (Brewster 73′); McBurnie (Egan 77′), McGoldrick.
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