Lasogga and Ekuban Would Give Leeds New Attacking Dimension – by Rob Atkinson


Ekuban Lasogga

Caleb Ekuban – ideal strike partner for Pierre-Michel Lasogga?

If I can be a little upbeat, without offending the Leonard Cohen drones and clones that infest the LUFC Twitter hashtag, I have to say I saw more positives in one slightly unlucky defeat at Sheffield United than I have in perhaps half a dozen victories we’ve eked out this turbulent season. There just seemed to be that little bit extra about some of the players, a bit of desire and composure, especially in the second half, that has been lacking since the earliest part of this Championship campaign. It wasn’t enough, after a disastrous start at Bramall Lane, to get any tangible reward from the clash of the two Uniteds – but, in the final analysis, Leeds were maybe a couple of highly debatable decisions away from getting Paul Heckingbottom‘s tenure as Head Coach off to the best possible start.

Still, that’s history now, and we’re left seeking to take what encouragement we can from an improved display, albeit in defeat, from Leeds United. One noticeable element fairly late on was the introduction of Caleb Ekuban, who was lively and threatening up front as he worked away, making his runs and contesting every ball. One thing this blogger would love to see over the rest of the season is a good run of games where Leeds play with a front two. It would take a better tactician than me to suggest the ideal formation behind a twin strike-force, but I do feel that Pierre-Michel Lasogga, despite his fairly impressive goal-scoring record, has not been used to the team’s best advantage when asked to fulfil a lone striker role. It doesn’t seem to me that this solitary workhorse thing  is his forte, and yet, on the occasions when he’s had some support in attack – usually in a crisis, such as 0-2 down to Millwall at Elland Road – Lasogga has suddenly looked full of menace. Ekuban, such a willing worker, appears to be the ideal foil for the big German, probably more so than the misfiring Kemar Roofe – and it’s surely only a matter of time before he, too, chips in with the goals. It would be well deserved; Ekuban’s current drought is not for the want of effort in his rare appearances between injuries so far.

Any input from the team shape experts out there would be genuinely welcome. 3-5-2? A diamond in midfield with Samu Saiz (when available) at the front of it, operating just behind Pierre and Caleb? It was a very wise man who once said that attack is the best form of defence, and I’m sure I’m not alone in my desire to see United go fully onto the offensive, making opponents too busy trying to stem our attacking tide, even to consider mounting a threat of their own. Yep, that would be nice.

So, what do others think? Do we have the personnel to play two up front? What’s the best balance for the team in that situation? Let’s have a heated debate. The play-offs pressure is largely off, now – unless the team suddenly gets its act together and moves up towards the top six. And, I’d venture to suggest, if that were to happen, it’d most likely be as a result of just such an attacking change of policy as I’ve suggested here.

Am I simply deluded? Do let me know.

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20 responses to “Lasogga and Ekuban Would Give Leeds New Attacking Dimension – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Spot on Rob plus Sais, Viera, Forshaw, Hernandez we would have a creative force able to supply them. Roofe doesn’t cut it for me neither does Alioski. Dallas not too far behind in selection too. However at the end of the day we still need more quality players next season as I think our season is already over.

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  2. Life is LUFC

    No in my opinion you are not deluded. I agree two up front would be best.
    Leeds do not have the where- with-all in the team to play 4231. It worked to a degree with Chris Wood because he was/is a good striker and you need a striker of real quality for that formation along with a team to feed him.
    If you go back to the days of Clarke and Jones they were a good partnership because they fed each other and worked as a team, In isolation Jones was not so effective but a damn good player all the same.
    The Championship teams have found Leeds out and they know our one up front is starving for lack of balls (make of that what you will).

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  3. Strikers hunt in pairs so Ekuban and Lasogga might do well but only in a different formation a 4 4 2 could work as well as beefing up our midfield

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  4. Maybe a 3-5-3 formation – Siaz being fairly small may not be spotted as an extra man! Seriously, I was thinking along similar lines to you, Rob. We need to sort out our attack threat. A lone stricker hasn’t worked for us for quite a while. The problem is that we now lack depth in defence. With Jansson on nine yellow cards it is likely he will miss a couple of games soon, and I don’t think we have a backup for his absence. Given the problems we had with injuries and suspensions, the January transfer window was a missed opportunity to keep our hopes of a top six finish alive.

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    • I honestly think a more attacking emphasis will take the pressure off our defence. I’ve just seen the post-Sheffield utterances of PH and I’ve a sneaking suspicion he’s thinking this way. With the options of Ekuban and young Tyler Roberts from WBA, there’s surely scope to provide more support up top for Lasogga.

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    • 3 5 3 , would probably work but having 11 outfield is technically cheating ⚽️😆

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  5. I think you have a good point Rob, as Lasogga is not a target man in the traditional sense and thus should be more involved with added support up front.
    My main concern is that we concentrate on keeping the ball better, preferably on the deck, as we bang it in the air too often. I would also like to see more urgency winning the ball back and closing down.
    If we worked harder to win it back, we might look after it better!
    When Hernandez cane on in the last game, the team kept it on the deck and looked transformed.

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  6. Harking back to our excellent start to the season, probably our best performance was at Forest where we played a real pressing game, giving them no space, and playing every ball with serious intent. I wouldn’t write off Roofe just yet. He needs some time out to get his mojo back, but he is quick, and deadly on his day. Alioski is in the same situation.
    I would play 442 with Viera, Forshaw, Dallas and Hernandez behind Lasogga and (for now) Ekuban.
    The return of Saitz can’t come too soon.

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  7. Whilst I agree that Lasogga will work better with a partner I simply can’t see him being with us next season so I’d rather plan a two man attack utilising Ekuban and Roberts

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    • I’d worry that might expose Roberts to too much early pressure, but it’s a viable option. I suspect PML will be the main man while he’s here, hopefully as one of two up top.

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  8. Absolutely Rob. I saw something really good in Ekuban way back in the Sunderland game that we have missed since with his unfortunate injuries. Lasogga will score goals but he is definitely not a lone striker type and Ekuban playing with him and say Hernandez / Dallas and Roberts generally out wide could be deadly with Saiz providing the spark.
    You can’t write off a playoff spot with 15 games to go and it doesn’t matter which spot because the form team at the end of the season will be the one that wins out. If we can win on Sunday and get something from Derby then it could be an exciting run going forward.
    Some ‘regulars’ will I am sure fall by the wayside under Heck who will demand ‘blitzkrieg’ football.
    Finally on another note I am fed up with fans winging on about Orta. He has bought some class players into Leeds through all the age groups. You don’t get it right all the time but a lot of the poorer performances have come from players who came before Orta arrived.

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    • Cheers Tim. Hear what you’re saying about Orta; the thing for me is that PH seems to embrace this managerial structure, so for once we’re not trying to jam a square peg in a round hole. I honestly think we now have a launch pad to better times. Heckingbottom seriously impresses me.

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  9. Nice to see some optimism Rob. We deffo have more all round attacking threat than in previous seasons but finding the right balance is proving difficult. 3-5-2 sounds inticing but going to 3 centre backs at this point in the season may be a stretch for players not used to this system.
    My Inexpert formation would be : Wieldwald, Anita, Jansson, Cooper, De Bock, Vieira, Dallas,Forshaw, Hernandez, Lasogga, Ekuban 4-4-2 with Roberts and a promising U23 on the bench (Tom Pearce perhaps). 10 to 12wins should see Leeds into the play-offs. Come on Leeds! There is still a chance. MOT

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  10. steven jones

    Good comments from everyone on this page but what about the elephant in the room our goalkeeper watch saturdays game inside one minute he kicks the ball strait into touch putting our defence on the backfoot second time he touches the is to pick it out of the net third time once again he kicks ball out to the opposite touch and puts our defence under more pressure this has been going on all season for me peacock farrell needs to play we also need to bring in one or two of our younger players to see if they are good enough for next season lewie coyle will now come back to complete with luke ayling and getano beradi had he been playing now we would now if he can step up i wish paul all the best i wish he would read the forums as fans we watch these games and have known for a long time thomas was not up to it

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  11. I’ve always been a 4-4-2 man myself, Rob. With a Plan B up the sleeve if things need changing mid-game. I reckon we’d get more out of the players we’ve currently got. And I’d certainly like to see us pressurising teams more, the way we used to. In my opinion, this playing deep stuff has never suited Leeds. So I’m really looking forward to seeing how Heckingbottom coaches the squad into the shape he wants for the rest of this season.

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  12. Seems about spot on to me Rob as Lasogga simply not suited to the loan striker role. I think either Ekuban or Roberts could be the perfect attacking partner chipping in themselves but also making more space for Pierre to get more shots on goal. Especially when playing at Elland Road I feel we must be more attack minded and that would have the added 12th man effect of the crowd who would raise the roof.
    I would like to see 3-5-2 as thus could also see us simply get more players in the oppositions box something we have been poor at over the last 2 seasons. We could always tweet the formation away from home. I would also like to see Pablo & Samu starting home games but where away from home you would probably only start one of them.
    Agree the play offs look out of reach now (although if we beat Bristol at weekend we will be only 5 points off 6th ! ) and with that in mind perhaps we can blood a few U23s this season ready for a big promotion push next season. I’m hoping that Andrea recognises the errors of the summer transfer policy and will now be focused on quality over quantity approach but also make sure we hang onto Jansson Saiz Hernandez Vierra at all costs and try to get Lasogga if he can prove himself to the end of the season. MOT

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  13. Michael Foley

    Rob,to me Lasogga has lot more going for him than some of the so called footballers in our side,if he had two good wingers who could and I mean could cross a ball in to him we would see a different player.

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  14. Good blog post mate.
    I agree with you too.
    3-5-2 looks like the way forward.

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  15. I was torn between posting this here or on the Clough thread. Leeds should remember what they lost out on by cutting short Cloughs reign. He had a formula which worked at every level in the league and Europe.
    Have a target man who can score with his head. We have that in Lasogga, plus he can score with either foot from close in or at range.
    Play a fast man next to him, who can feed off head ons. That’s Ekuban. Plus with Ekuban, if the opposition defence push forward and Lasogga can’t out run them cos he’s not match fit yet, play the ball through the defence so Ekuban can get in behind them.

    We don’t have a perfect winger, but we do have two players on the right with pace to burn. Anita and Sacko. let them use their pace going forward and overlapping. Tell Sacko not to think about it, just cross the ball to the penalty spot. Most of the time he’ll miss, but get Ekuban to get to the side of the penalty area furthest away and Lasogga to the nearest. Either one of them will reach the cross or a defender will head it out. Have Saiz waiting for the clearance so he can do some damage with a run, pass, or shot. Get Sacko to give the ball to Anita on the overlap. If the right wingers overhit the cross have Hernandez, the fake winger drifting in from the left so he can use his skill to get in the box or maka a chance for someone.

    Anita marked a premier league winger out of the game easily on Sunday. He should be first choice right back. Even if a winger beats him, he has the pace to recover. Remember Paul Reaney marking George Best out of games, and Reaney’s overlaps.

    Tell Hernandez to use De Bock better. De Bock has the strength and intelligence to get up and down the left and overlap. But Hernandez must give him the ball sometimes. Remember it was De Bock’s back heel that made a goal on Sunday against Bristol.

    If we do that we won’t be worried every time the opposition comes forward, they’ll be the ones worrying.

    Hope one of the coaches reads this. It’s not rocket science, and it’s been done before and works.

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