For the first time this season, Leeds United lost two games in a row at West Bromwich Albion on Friday night.
The Whites’ disappointing 1-0 loss at the Hawthorns on Boxing Day followed their Boxing Day setback against Preston North End, which caused them to lose ground on Southampton as well as the top two.
Leeds failed to break down a team content to sit back and defend this season; their offensive style had grown stale. It was an all too familiar story.
However, after a “incredible” first-half moment kept the score at 0-0, Sky Sports pundit Andy Hinchcliffe was all praise for one Leeds player, Djed Spence, live on TV.
Cedric Kipre was certain to score, but Spence was there to block his shot from going in the net after Karl Darlow attempted to handle a corner but was unable.
A peculiar one from Farke, Spence sub
“Well, the keeper Darlow is really nowhere near this, but Djed Spence, amazing reactions on the line,” he remarked. He’s not initially on the line or the post, but his response and understanding of what can happen are excellent. This ball zips right to him.
“He returns to the line; if he does not, or if he is unaware of the potential consequences, his keeper is in trouble, and West Brom wins 1-0.”
Daniel Farke decided to substitute Dan James for Spence with about 30 minutes remaining in the game. It felt odd at the time and wasn’t a wise move.
Spence is considerably more skilled than James at using cunning to defeat a man, and against a West Brom defense that is as strong as theirs, that kind of play is exactly what’s needed.
At the Hawthorns, Farke rotated for the first time in nearly two months, although his current substitution selections really do leave a lot to be desired.