Leeds’ disappointing start to the season continued as they lost 1-0 to Southampton away from home in the Premier League on Saturday.
Armando Broja scored the only goal of the game as he finished from close range after a superb counter-attacking run from Nathan Redmond.
The Whites are now 17th in the table and three points off the relegation zone, four points off bottom of the league Norwich.
Whilst it was a difficult afternoon for Leeds overall, there were some positives to take from the game and one of them was the performance of young defender Jamie Shackleton – who impressed at right-back.
Once again filling in for the injured Luke Ayling, Shackleton lined up on the right of the defence in a wing-back role and put in a superb display despite the team’s struggles overall. He provided a useful outlet in transition going forward and was active defensively to limit Southampton’s attacks throughout the game.
On the ball, the defender was reliable. Per SofaScore, he completed 77% of his passes and three of his four attempted dribbles. The latter, in particular, shows how he was able to take the ball and progress Leeds up the pitch in possession as he beat players and gained yards into the Saints half, although his teammates were then unable to use that to create good enough chances to score.
Defensively, he was exceptional. He won a whopping 12 duels on the pitch, prevailing in 11 of his 15 ground battles and one of four in the air. He also completed an eye-catching six tackles, five interceptions and one clearance, whilst only being dribbled past once all game.
Whilst there was room for improvement in his aerial duels, he showed that he has the defensive awareness and strength to win the majority of his 50/50’s overall and impose himself on opposition players. His tackle and interception numbers highlight how many times he was able to win the ball back for Bielsa’s side, which provided more opportunities for them to create attacks.
Therefore, the 22-year-old warrior was a shining light for Bielsa against the Saints. Hopefully, he will be able to maintain this level of performance, as a minimum, throughout the rest of the season and put himself in a position where he is undroppable, even when Ayling returns to fitness.