Leeds United no longer the butt of the joke as Plymouth Argyle win keeps Daniel Farke's men on track

When Leeds United were relegated to the Championship, Plymouth Argyle featured in a lot of jokes shared at the expense of the Whites.

The plucky Pilgrims had bounced between the third and fourth tiers while Leeds were making strikes in the second.

As Leeds were catching eyes as the new kids on the Premier League block, Plymouth were languishing in the bottom half of League One.

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The prospect of the two sides being Championship counterparts was amusing for many of Leeds’ rivals.

Leeds United picked up a third consecutive Championship win. Image: Jonathan GawthorpeLeeds United picked up a third consecutive Championship win. Image: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leeds United picked up a third consecutive Championship win. Image: Jonathan Gawthorpe

But the fact of the matter is that Leeds might just ‘enjoy Plymouth away’.

They certainly seemed to enjoy Plymouth at home, even if their dominance was not reflected in the 2-1 scoreline.

Plenty of attention has been paid to the attackers at Daniel Farke’s disposal and it is growing increasingly difficult to deny them the limelight.

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Daniel James and Crysencio Summerville were persistent threats in wide areas, while Joel Piroe and Georginio Rutter seemed to effortlessly find pockets of space away from green shirts.

Plymouth found themselves chasing the shadows of a dangerous attacking quartet and it was James and Piroe who delivered the goals.

Ben Waine threatened to set up a nervy finish with a late consolation but truthfully, Leeds never looked particularly likely to surrender their lead.

There was not much to criticise from a Leeds perspective but a sharpened clinical edge would have prevented some late nerves.

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Speaking in his post-match press conference, Farke said: “Obviously, once you are so dominant like we were, in the first-half, 2-0 up, obviously you would have wished to score six or seven goals and win this game comfortably and we don't have to fight until the last second.

"It's always the same if you don't score the goals. In the second half, we were, in many, many ways, excellent. Joel Piroe, I think two times he's in the situation where he nearly almost scores.

"Georginio Rutter had two situations where you need to score a goal. Willy Gnonto had a one against one on the goalkeeper where he normally scores a goal.

"Jaidon Anthony, it wasn't one against one but also a big chance. Normally, you should score, even in the second-half, at least three or four goals.”

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Leeds were breathless in the first-half and a tame shot on target from Finn Azaz was all the travelling fans were given to be excited about.

The second-half was not quite as fluid, although the hosts had more than enough opportunities to put the game to bed.

Defensively, Leeds were well-drilled and Joe Rodon continues to stand out. He fared well without his usual partner Pascal Struijk, as club captain Liam Cooper slotted seamlessly into the left-sided centre-back role.

Farke does not deviate much from formulas he finds to be working and changes just do not appear particularly necessary as it stands.

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The midfield duo of Ethan Ampadu and Glen Kamara was once again effective, nullifying attacking threats within the Plymouth midfield and contributing to Leeds’ probing surges.

Leeds are the closest club to pace-setters Leicester City and Ipswich Town, although the former faltered again with a defeat to Middlesbrough.

Like most managers, Farke is reluctant to fixate on the league table.

He is, however, aware of Leeds’ promising standing going into another international break.

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He said: "I’m not too addicted to our position in the table but after this tricky start, and tricky period in the summer, if someone would have guaranteed us to be in position three, I think many people would have said ‘oh, that would be a positive surprise.’

"I know we are on a really good run and in a good shape with six wins out of seven in this league. I know that we are on a really good path.

"But for me, the most important topic is the performance levels. I’m really happy that we improve more or less on a weekly basis and show some really consistent and good performances.

"The way we want to play, the values you want to stand for, the ways we want to work and create, a big identification.

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"It’s more like a big unity within the dressing room, but also within the club that everyone knows ‘okay, this is Leeds United, this is how we want to work and how we want to play’. I’m very pleased with this.”

Farke’s side play attractive and expressive football but when it comes to his demeanour, the German is something of a pragmatist.

Even amid the furore following another win, Farke dropped relegation into the conversation.

It was a tongue-in-cheek comment but also a reminder of Farke’s determination not to rest on laurels.

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He said: "If we can transport this to the end of the season, then happy days. But it’s a long way to go.

"The first 16 games, we are definitely on a good path. If we just stay there with 31 points, no team has finished with 31 points in the play-offs, not even to speak about direct promotion or something like this.

"With just 31 points, if we stay there, we would even relegate. We have to make sure that we win many, many points in the upcoming games.”

Leeds United: Meslier, Gray, Rodon, Cooper, Byram (Firpo 54); Ampadu, Kamara; Summerville (Anthony 78), Piroe (Bamford 90+2), James (Gnonto 79), Rutter (Gruev 90+2).

Unused substitutes: Darlow, Cresswell, Ayling, Poveda.

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Plymouth Argyle: Cooper, Scarr, Pleguezuelo (Edwards 57), Gibson; Mumba, Randell (Waine 57), Houghton (Butcher 81), Kesler-Hayden (C. Wright 75); Whittaker, Cundle, Azaz (Issaka 75).

Unused substitutes: Hazard, Gillesphey, Warrington, T. Wright.

Referee: Josh Smith (Peterborough)