The Whites seem incapable of winning in the capital but the way they lost to West Ham United was more fundamental and disappointing, given they were the better team, making more and better chances, over the 90 minutes.
According to WhoScored.com, no Premier League team has conceded more goals from set pieces this season, or from penalties. West Ham’s 2-0 win came courtesy of Jesse Lingard’s second chance from a penalty saved by Illan Meslier, and a header from a corner by Craig Dawson, who hit the post with another soon after.
Set pieces have been an Achilles heel throughout Marcelo Bielsa’s time at Elland Road and he knows he needs to put it right if the team is to make the most of its potential.
In patches this season they have been fantastic, and whilst inconsistency is acceptable in their first season back in the top flight, in the longer term they must strive for better.
“If you look at the performances of the whole season, the goalkeeper, the four defenders and the defensive midfielder have been our most consistent (players),” he argued.
“Meslier has had a good season, (Luke) Ayling and (Stuart) Dallas are some of our most consistent players and all of those who have played at centre-back – (Liam) Cooper, Pascal (Struijk), Ayling and (Robin) Koch – have shone.
“The answer opens up another type of analysis because having defenders who have played so well, we start to think why we have conceded so many goals. There’s responsibility on me because if you have good footballers to recover the ball and the team concedes goals, inevitably the coach is involved.”
Bielsa’s point about Meslier’s consistency is debatable. He has been brilliant at times, but there have been a few too many clangers, too. That is what you get for entrusting a 21-year-old with such a vital job, but the long-term benefits of their faith and patience could be huge. With Kiko Casilla left off the bench, the goalkeeping department is evolving.
Now Bielsa will go away, as he did after December reverse fixture decided by set-pieces, and decide what needs to be done.
“We must overcome the headers of our opponents,” he said. “If we don’t, it means the guidance I give the team prior to the game was not good enough. We know the problem exists and we try to find a solution.
“We will reproduce the actions from the game in training and try to find efficient responses.
“If the team has good headers of the ball – Diego Llorente, Cooper, Ayling, Phillips – and I don’t manage to avoid the danger it’s because I haven’t been able to resolve the problem but for some games now we had been avoiding these situations.”
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