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Opposition view: Leeds have learned that attack is their best form of defence

Former Real Madrid trainee Samuel Saiz has made a big impact at Leeds since his summer arrival. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

Former Real Madrid trainee Samuel Saiz has made a big impact at Leeds since his summer arrival. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

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Leeds supporter David Wilkinson, who writes for TheScratchingShed.com, is expecting Norwich to run the hosts close at Elland Road during this afternoon’s return to Championship action.

Macedonia international winger Ezgjan Alioski has scored four goals in his last six games for Leeds. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PAMacedonia international winger Ezgjan Alioski has scored four goals in his last six games for Leeds. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA

Results look to have picked up again recently for Leeds, with three wins and a draw in the last five, what has been key to that improvement?

I think we’ve simply returned to what worked at the start of the season. At times we’ve been guilty of going a little negative, but this side are at their best when we’re defending from the front. It sounds counter-intuitive that playing more attacking players together (namely Samuel Saiz, Ezgjan Alioski and Pablo Hernandez) would provide a stronger defensive footing, but with Pierre-Michel Lasogga dropped and Kemar Roofe or Caleb Ekuban playing as centre-forward, the entire front line are willing runners who’ll chase down lost balls and keep the pressure on at the right end of the pitch.

You’re just four points adrift of the top six, so do you feel the squad is strong enough to push on and finish in the play-offs?

It’s a tough one that. I think we’re stronger than we were last year (when we finished seventh) but I’d still put us in the fifth to tenth bracket. I’d like to think January can make the difference, but changing too much creates problems in itself. The current side will only get better with time but it might be next season before we can mount a serious challenge.

Kemar Roofe scored all three goals as Leeds won 3-1 at QPR last weekend. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesKemar Roofe scored all three goals as Leeds won 3-1 at QPR last weekend. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Have you been pleased with the work of manager Thomas Christiansen so far?

Like many of the players, he’s still learning the league. I feared the worst when a total unknown was hired, but he’s doing alright. I have no major complaints with him.

Which players have impressed this season?

Spanish attacking midfielder Samu Saiz is incredible. If he’s not the best player in this division, I dread the day we come up against his better. He never has a bad game. I have no idea why he’s playing second tier football, but am glad it’s with us. Alioski has been really good in patches too. He’s more what you’d expect at this level, in that his form varies, but on his day, he’s a big player for us.

And which players have been disappointing?

Centre-back Pontus Jansson hasn’t hit the levels he was at last season just yet, but our biggest issue has probably been the goalkeepers. Both have had a few howlers and neither offer the assurance your defence needs from the man behind them.

Have you been surprised to see Norwich struggling in the bottom half of the table?

Yeah, I thought you’d kick-on and be challenging further up after finishing near us last season. It’s an odd league though, there’s always teams who surprise at both ends of the table. Plus it’s relatively early days and someone always makes a charge in the second half of the season.

Do you feel confident of a win this afternoon?

I’m never confident in Leeds. Too many years experience.

And lastly, what is your prediction?

I know it feels pretty grim when you’re down in 16th, but the gap between Leeds (in seventh) and Norwich is just six points. I think that demonstrates how closely matched teams in this division are. 
To that end, I don’t expect an easy three points on Saturday and would be delighted with 1-0.

• David Wilkinson writes for online Leeds United fanzine TheScratchingShed.com – named after the old Elland Road South Stand – and can be followed on Twitter @TSSLUFC

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