Leeds United keen to extend home run

Garry Monk.
Garry Monk.

After failing to win in any of their first three home games suddenly Leeds United have now won three on the trot at Elland Road and head coach Garry Monk is on his way to making it the fortress he is after.

Monk has made it a priority to turn round home fortunes following some poor results there in recent years as the basis for turning the Whites into a side that is consistently in the top half.

And the fans will believe he on to something if they can follow up league and cup wins over Blackburn Rovers and last Saturday’s 1-0 success against Ipswich Town with a fourth straight victory when Leeds host Barnsley this Saturday.

In the last of the second group of seven matches in 22 days this season, United can ensure a top half place if they get another three points.

They are stepping into the unknown a little with their opponents freshly promoted and still on a high after their fantastic 2015-16 season when they also won a cup final at Wembley.

Barnsley have made an encouraging start in the EFL Championship, with five wins from their first 10 games and already a reputation building as a side that goes for it.

They sit in tenth, four places above Leeds, and are the top scorers in the division with 20 goals so look set to give Leeds a big test of just how much they have improved their defence.

Since the arrival of Pontus Jansson in the team the Whites have looked a lot more solid as shown from three clean sheets in successive games before the narrow and unlucky 1-0 defeat at Bristol City last night - the winning goal coming after the Swedish defender was off the pitch.

Jansson was taken off as a precaution rather than serious injury, but he did damage his hamstring and so will be a doubtful starter with the next game following on so quickly.

At the other end of the pitch, it has not quite been so successful for Leeds, who are still only averaging a goal a game. But more chances are being created in recent games and there is more goal threat with Chris Wood certainly finding his form.

He led the line strongly in a lone frontman role against Ipswich when he scored for the fourth consecutive game and took his tally for the season up to seven, although he was unable to keep the run going at Bristol.

While he has not always been fans’ cup of tea, Wood has for now he has won his battle with Marcus Antonsson to play up front with Leeds likely to stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation that is beginning to serve them well and gets the best out of playmaker Pablo Hernandez.

Winger Hadi Sacko is also looking more of a threat with every game he plays and making himself into every bit a key player as Hernandez. He could do with sharpening his finishing skills, however, after missing some big chances in the last two matches.

United boss Monk, meanwhile, is delighted with the way Eunan O’Kane is settling into his the midfield role he has been given since his move from Bournemouth.

He said: “He’s an intelligent person, intelligent player, fitted straight in with the squad, and good players don’t take long to understand what you want from them. We explained everything how we work and exactly how we need him to work and understand. He compliments the other midfielders that we have that are playing games.”