Leeds United were unable to recreate their emphatic 3-0 victory over Aston Villa earlier this season as they fell to defeat at Elland Road. The Saturday fixture was a disappointing slump for the home side, who were hit by an early Anwar El Ghazi goal.
The goal came after just five minutes of play and it set the tone for the remainder of the match. Leeds struggled to get into the swing of things and managed just three shots on target for the full 90 minutes. Despite having the most possession (69%), the Whites were on the back foot from early on and failed to come out with any sort of result.
Marcelo Bielsa will be frustrated with the performance of many of his players, but arguably none more than Helder Costa, whom he handed a rare start to.
The right-winger has been battling for his position on the pitch since Raphinha arrived at Elland Road last summer. Costa has started just nine Premier League fixtures out of Leeds’ 26 played so far, as per Transfermarkt. He has been inconsistent throughout this campaign but picked up his form in more recent matches as he contributed a goal against Arsenal and an assist against Southampton.
Costa started his first match since November on Sunday, filling in for Jack Harrison who was demoted to the bench. However, in what should have been an opportunity to grab with both hands, he failed to seize his opportunity.
According to Sofascore, the £70,000 per week wide man made just 12 successful passes and took 29 touches. This is fewer than goalkeeper Illan Meslier, who made 24 passes and took 33 touches. This is a hugely worrying number for a man who had the whole right flank to dominate. Costa is supposed to be pulling the strings from out wide and assisting Patrick Bamford with the attacking threat. But Saturday was a huge flop for the Portugal international and he failed to make an impact in attempting to break down the Villa defence.
Bielsa will be frustrated with the fact that he put faith in Costa and he let him down. It won’t be surprising if he is demoted to the bench once again against West Ham, with Harrison returning in his place.