FRESH from Saturday’s 2-1 victory for Leeds United against Championship visitors Hull City, Lee Sobot looks at five points highlighted by Saturday’s events at Elland Road.
Hull will have to scrap hard for promotion
Everything looked rosy for the Tigers when they quietly reached the Championship’s summit last month with Steve Bruce insisting their best was yet to come.
But back to back league defeats to Derby and now Leeds have left the Tigers four points off the automatic promotion places.
Meantime this weekend, Middlesbrough excelled in a 2-0 win at Ipswich Town while Brighton’s remarkable unbeaten run continues and City will need to considerably up their game to get back in the top two, especially with Derby also dangerous.
Hull also evidently miss top scorer Abel Hernandez when he is not around.
Leeds are heading in the right direction
It’s far too early in the season to suggest Leeds are safe from relegation but Saturday’s success booted the Whites six points clear of the dropzone with United now as big as 10-1 to be relegated with BetVictor and Betfair. That’s seventh favourites and Bolton, Rotherham and Charlton are all odds on. United have the capabilities to win at Charlton on Saturday and with home games against Preston and MK Dons on the horizon, Leeds should be aiming to be top half by the turn of the year. The 17th-placed Whites are currently four points behind 12th-placed QPR.
Liam Bridcutt could be just what Leeds need
Bridcutt arrived on loan at Leeds from Sunderland with quite a reputation and the potential to be a class act dropping down a tier. But so did Will Buckley and plenty of fans will have feared Bridcutt could prove a disappointment after an unspectacular debut at QPR. But the 26-year-old probably needed that outing and put in a fine display as the holding midfielder against Hull, looking composed, strong and assured throughout. Furthermore, Bridcutt and Tom Adeyemi, regarded as two similar sorts of players position wise, can evidently play in the same side with Adeyemi clearly relishing the licence to get forward, safe in the knowledge that the strong Sunderland loanee was sat just behind him.
Adeyemi already has two goals for the season now and should be looking to add a few more.
Sam Byram is on his way out
It’s not definite but in reality Byram’s departure from Elland Road is looking imminent in light of the right back turning down United’s offer of a new contract. Evans suggested afterwards that giving Byram time to think could yet result in a change of heart but it seems unlikely that the defender will sign on the dotted line or be offered further improved terms. For all that Evans rates the defender extremely highly, the Glaswegian has said he will not feature players who don’t want to stay at the club and unless something dramatically changes Byram will likely be sold in January, or move on in the summer when his contract expires. It was heart-warming to see the 22-year-old brought on as a substitute to huge applause and chants of “one Sam Byram” but sadly his United days appear to be coming to an end.
Tom Huddlestone could make a Hull centre-back
There were very few positives for the Tigers to take from Saturday’s loss at Elland Road but the efforts of midfielder Huddlestone at centre-back for the last 19 minutes were one of them.
The 28-year-old was shifted into the heart of defence after Harry Maguire was forced off with injury and Huddlestone looked comfortable in that new position, for all that by that point Leeds were hanging on to what they had got. Huddlestone’s display will have been a crumb of comfort to Bruce who also lost Alex Bruce to injury on Saturday.