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Body language from some Leeds United players suggested frustration at 24/at Norwich – YEP

Soccer Football – FA Cup – Fourth Round Replay – Plymouth Argyle v Leeds United – Home Park, Plymouth, UK – February 6, 2024 Leeds United’s Illan Meslier during the match Action Images/Peter Cziborra

Leeds United went from the first leg of their play-off semi-final away to Norwich City with a clean sheet which looked mission accomplished for Daniel Farke before Thursday.

After the way Leeds reached the finish line of the regular season, finishing six points adrift of second place heading into the international break, a reset against Norwich City was needed.

First and foremost Daniel Farke addressed Leeds’ worrying recent habit of conceding goals, so keeping a clean sheet was a positive – despite a disappointing afternoon in Norfolk.

Illan Meslier a cause for concern again, despite clean sheet

An exit away from home in the play-offs is an ideal result for any team hoping to reach Wembley, and Leeds gave the Canaries very few opportunities to test Illan Meslier.

The Frenchman looked most trained when he was in possession of the ball and looked to build from the back, passing the ball a few times into unnecessary areas.

Graham Smyth of the Yorkshire Evening Post shared this moment off-camera at Carrow Road, with Meslier noted as having a “bad day”:

“This is of course up for debate because Farke was happy with his goalkeeper. After all, it kept the sheets clean. And while the plan was to be a little more pragmatic and last at times, Meslier’s accuracy often gave Leeds little chance of keeping possession.

“The body language of some of his teammates suggested that distribution, both long and short, as he was exciting with relatively simple passes, was a problem for them at times. What Leeds need from their goalkeeper on Thursday night is for him to give the defense confidence when he gets the ball at his feet.”

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Illan Meslier vs Norwich City Stats

Returning to Elland Road knowing Leeds only need to beat Norwich to go through is a boost, and it comes after Meslier kept a clean sheet.

As mentioned above, this will be everything Farke wanted from the game, but there was certainly room for improvement with Meslier’s performance:

Illan Meslier v Norwich
Goals conceded 0
xG prevented 0.42
Pass success 66% (25/38)
Accurate long balls 5/17
Save 1

Meslier’s cast is a massive problem for Leeds

On paper, the reason Meslier is favored over Karl Darlow this season is because of his work in possession, but that doesn’t show.

He has been very poor on the ball for a while and there were some crazy moments against Norwich that just brought angst for no reason.

A simple 15m pass to Joe Rodon as he went straight into contact with no pressure, he put Ilia Gruev under massive pressure with a terrible choice of pass in the first half and a stronger team punishes it.

Given that Elland Road has been very tense in recent months, some of this at the start of the second leg will not go down well.

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