Date:Friday December 24 2010
Vital Leeds gives you their half term report on Leeds season in the Championship so far.
Ok we might be a game short of halfway but with games coming thick and fast over the Christmas period, the chances of me sitting down and writing this are limited.
Leeds had been busy during the summer and had strengthened the squad with ten new players coming in before the transfer window closed at the end of August.
Probably the most notable was the signing of Kasper Schmeichel from Notts County on a free transfer.
Most of the players coming in were on free transfers, Paul Connolly joined from Derby, Federico Bessone - Swansea, Lloyd Sam -Charlton and Billy Paynter signed from Swindon after scoring twenty nine goals for the Wiltshire club in League One the previous season, including four against Leeds.
Sanchez Watt enjoyed a loan spell at the end of last season and he signed on a season long loan from Arsenal, Adam Clayton initially came in on loan from Manchester City before he signed a permanent deal and experienced midfielder Amdy Faye signed on a short-term deal keeping him at Leeds initially until the turn of the year.
Leeds did splash some cash, Neil Collins had enjoyed a loan spell at the end of last season from Preston and he signed for an undisclosed fee, as did Alex Bruce from Ipswich and Ross McCormack from Cardiff City.
Leeds were dealt a blow before a meaningful ball was kicked when Robert Snodgrass and Billy Paynter suffered injuries during pre season that ruled them both out of the early months of the season.
The BBC TV cameras were present for Leeds first game of the season when they entertained Derby County and Leeds were given a rude awakening to life in the Championship when Derby went away with all three points in a 2-1 win.
It was Leeds first opening day defeat since losing to Newcastle in 1989.
Carling Cup action beckoned for Leeds in midweek and they comfortably disposed of Lincoln City 4-0 at Elland Road.
With Jermaine Beckford leaving in the summer fans were wondering who would score the goals for Leeds this season.
Luciano Becchio made a good start to the season and made it two goals in two goals.
John Howson, Lloyd Sam and Neil Kilkenny all got their first goals of the season in the game.
Leeds were back in front of the live TV cameras for their second league game of the season at Nottingham Forest.
Dexter Blackstock gave Forest an early lead and Leeds found themselves under a barrage of pressure in the opening half hour.
They eventually grew into the game and Lloyd Sam equalised for Leeds before half time.
In the second half Leeds looked the more likely side to grab a winner but they eventually had to be happy with a point in a 1-1 draw.
Next up for Leeds were Millwall at Elland Road, a club that had proved to be a thorn in their sides over the past few seasons.
The visitors took an early lead after Richard Naylor put through his own net but Leeds put in a terrific performance to eventually win 3-1.
Lloyd Sam continued his good form in front of goal with his third goal in three games and Davide Somma came off the bench to score his first goals in Leeds colours.
Somma had enjoyed a productive loan spell at Lincoln last season, scoring nine goals in fourteen games and he brought that form back to Elland Road, scoring twice in the last eleven minutes.
Leicester City were next up for Leeds in the Carling Cup at Elland Road, Davide Somma scored again to give Leeds the lead in his first start for the club but Leicester hit back and scored the winner in the last minute from the penalty spot.
It`s was back to League action on the Saturday and Richard Naylor scored the only goal of the game to give Leeds their first away win of the season.
Leeds finished the month of August inside the play off places in sixth place.
Swansea came to Elland Road next and led until the fifty-sixth minute before goals from Bradley Johnson and Luciano Becchio claimed another three points for Leeds.
Nearly 7,000 Leeds fans travelled to Barnsley for their next away game and all seemed to be going to plan after Johnny Howson had given Leeds an early lead.
Barnsley equalised shortly before half time and the Leeds defence collapsed in the second half as they conceded four more goals.
Davide Somma scored a lat consolation for Leeds but it brought to an end their four match unbeaten run.
Leeds faced another Yorkshire derby next time out when they travelled to Doncaster Rovers.
An entertaining game in front of the live Sky TV cameras followed at the Keepmoat but neither side could find a break through.
Davide Somma came closest for Leeds late on but his goal was ruled out for offside.
Sheffield United became Leeds third Yorkshire derby in a row and a late Bradley Johnson goal got Leeds back to winning ways at Elland Road in a 1-0 win.
Leeds were back in action three days later against Preston at home and an extraordinary ninety minutes of football followed.
Jon Parkin fired the visitors into an early lead but Leeds led 4-1 after fourty minutes thanks to goals from Luciano Becchio, Alex Bruce and two from Davide Somma.
Jon Parkin scored his second of the evening shortly before half time and the Leeds goal came under immense pressure before the half time whistle that was a pointer to what was going to happen in the second half.
Preston scored four unanswered goals in the second half with Parkin completing his hat trick as the relegation threatened Preston walked away with a 6-4 win.
It was the first time that Leeds had conceded six goals at home in their long history.
Leeds suffered back-to-back defeats when they went down 2-1 at Ipswich next time out.
Robert Snodgrass made his first start of the season and equalised for Leeds late on but poor defending allowed Ipswich to snatch a late winner.
The afternoon was made even worse when Alex Bruce received a red card against his former club.
Leeds were back on the TV again next time out at Middlesbrough, with their manager, former Leeds favourite Gordon Strachan under pressure after the pre season favourites had made a poor start to the season.
Goals from Davide Somma and a wonder strike from Luciano Becchio earned Leeds all three points in a 2-1 victory.
Leicester came to Elland Road for the second time this season next time out and once again walked away with a 2-1 win.
Leeds were in home action again next time out and promotion chasers Cardiff put Leeds to the sword in front of the live Sky TV cameras with a 4-0 win.
The defeat left Leeds in sixteenth position and they had now lost three home games in a row.
Simon Grayson changed the Leeds tactics for their next away game at Scunthorpe United with John Howson given a freer role.
The move paid off with Howson netting a hat trick in a 4-1 win with Max Gradel scoring the other.
An indifferent month saw Leeds finish October in twelfth place.
Leeds travelled to Coventry next time out, over 6,000 Leeds fans again made the journey and they were rewarded with a 3-2 win over an inform Coventry.
Howson continued his hot streak in front of goal when he opened the scoring.
Robert Snodgrass scored a superb second before half time as Leeds looked to be cruising to victory.
Coventry got back into the game early in the second half before Max Gradel restored the two-goal cushion for Leeds from the penalty spot.
Ben Turner reduced the arrears to one again but Leeds hung on for their second win in a row and their third away win in succession.
Leeds winning run came to an end in their next game when they were held to a 2-2 draw at home against Hull City. Leeds looked to be heading for all three points thanks to goals from Bradley Johnson and Andy O`Brien but Johnson put through his own net with just two minutes remaining to cost Leeds two points.
Bristol City were next up at Elland Road and after over an hour with no goals and no sign of one coming Simon Grayson brought Luciano Becchio off the bench after he had decided to give the striker a rest.
Becchio scored a hat trick, his first for the club inside seventeen minutes as Leeds went on to win 3-1 and record their first home win in five games.
Leeds faced two tough trips on the road and came away unbeaten with two draws.
They led at Norwich thanks to a Max Gradel only to concede late on and then they battled to a 0-0 draw at Reading.
Leeds finished November unbeaten in six games and they were now in seventh place, just outside the play off places.
Crystal Palace were next up for Leeds at Elland Road and they stunned the home faithful when they went in 1-0 up at half time.
Leeds huffed and puffed in the second half but it looked like being one of those days with Palace keeper Speroni constantly denying Leeds in front of goal.
Luciano Becchio came to Leeds rescue inside the final ten minutes when he scored twice in two minutes to earn Leeds all three points.
Burnley looked to be ending Leeds seven match unbeaten run at Turf Moor in Leeds next game.
The home side led 2-0 at half time but Leeds once again showed the character that had taken them on this unbeaten run.
Max Gradel and Luciano Becchio got Leeds back on level terms before captain Johnny Howson went on a fifty yard run before scoring the winner for Leeds with just four minutes remaining.
Next up for Leeds were league leaders Queens Park Rangers at Elland Road.
Leeds put in one of their performances of the season to beat the Londoners 2-0 with both goals coming from Max Gradel.
The win moved Leeds into the second automatic promotion place and now just three points behind Rangers at the top.
Leeds have now gone nine games unbeaten, taking twenty one points from the last twenty seven available.
So all in all a good first half of the season. Leeds made a decent start to the season with three wins from their first four games.
Leeds then suffered a bad run of injuries that at one stage saw ten players on the injury list. Results became inconsistent and they suffered heavy defeats at Barnsley and at home to Preston and Cardiff.
The turning point was at Scunthorpe towards the end of September when Simon Grayson changed the side`s tactics and since then the results have just got better and better.
It all culminated with the win over Queens Park Rangers last Saturday.
Leeds now stand in their highest position since relegation from the Premier League in 2004 and they are all set for the second half of the season.
As we all know with Leeds United it`s bound to be a rollercoaster ride with plenty of ups and downs, twists and turns along the way.
So fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the ride.
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Date:Friday December 24 2010
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|17. Leeds Utd||18||4||7||7||-5||19|
|19. MK Dons||18||4||4||10||-9||16|
|20. Bristol City||18||3||7||8||-12||16|
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