Leeds United 1-1 Aston Villa Six Things: subs the key

Jansson heads in the opener – dailystar.co.uk

Substitute Henri Lansbury’s second half strike cancelled out Pontus Jansson’s first half header as Leeds United drew 1-1 with Aston Villa at Elland Road. Here’s six things from the game.

Isolated Davis

Leeds played on the front foot early on, with Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira pushing into the final third, at times simultaneously. The result was a big gap through the middle of the pitch but Villa didn’t show the ambition to exploit that, with Robert Snodgrass and Albert Adomah much closer to their own box than the opposition’s box. With the two wide men as well as Josh Onomah and Conor Hourihane so far away from Keinan Davis, the lone front man was tasked with leading counter-attacks in an individualistic way that might have been more suited to the injured Jonathan Kodjia.

Ekuban’s runs

Leeds looked dangerous when Alan Hutton was caught too far up and they tried balls down the left channel, isolating Christopher Samba against the speedy Caleb Ekuban. The first time, the latter’s hasty cross allowed the impressive Chester to bail Samba out with a back-post clearance, but the second time, Ekuban had the intelligence to win a corner. Pablo Hernandez delivered a wonderful ball to the near post and Pontus Jansson got to it ahead of Samba, heading past Sam Johnstone.

Leeds possession

For a long time, Villa had no response to the goal. The defence’s reluctance to push up in the first hour meant the midfield didn’t look comfortable pressing for the ball, nor did their use of it improve. Leeds were in control, waiting patiently for gaps to open as Samuel Saiz and Hernandez interchanged cleverly in the inside left channel. However, their plan of passing the away side into submission meant they didn’t shoot when opportunities arose and while this didn’t seem significant at the time, the second halves’ events made them regret not trying to kill the game off.

Subs combined

Five minutes after Liam Cooper saw a header ruled offside on the hour mark, Steve Bruce introduced Jack Grealish and Lansbury – both made a huge impact on the contest. Villa began to press with more vigour than we saw in the first half, exposing Leeds’ fragilities that hadn’t initially been apparent. The referee played on after Jansson’s mistimed 72nd minute challenge on Taylor and when Grealish prodded the loose ball onto Lansbury, the ex-Forest midfielder unleashed a firm drive into the bottom left-hand corner. Villa then managed the closing stages well, ensuring a share of the spoils.

Best and worst of Leeds

Leeds in the first half showed why they have out-passed so many sides this season and on another day, they could have gone on to dominate this match. The fact they didn’t however, invites questions into the mentality of the team. They look unstoppable in spells, but when they misplace a pass or two and when the opposition are given encouragement to press, the momentum of their entire performance can dissipate. The Whites are progressing in some areas under Thomas Christiansen but they need to maintain confidence during periods of games that aren’t played on their terms.

Worst and best of Villa

Aston Villa got the result they came to West Yorkshire for and it is indicative of their dependability under Steve Bruce that they got it without playing at their best. Question marks remain over the style of football, because for long spells they didn’t look like a team comfortable attacking. However, the depth in their squad – as shown by the impact of Grealish and Lansbury – means that if they can hang on in games for long enough, they will have the quality to capitalize when their moment comes.