The Media Review: Leeds United

The thoughts from the press on Saturday's draw with Leeds United.

By Nick Szczepanik • 28 November 2021

By Simon Davies
Albion showed their support for the Rainbow Laces campaign ahead of kick-off against Leeds United.

Sometimes you know what is coming even before you pick up a Sunday paper and turn to the Albion report. And this weekend was a perfect example. 

Without fail and with varying degrees of elegance, every report expressed the excellence of the team’s play, the superlative performance of Albion wing back Tariq Lamptey, and a frustration at the team’s inability to finish off so much good work. But there was also surprise at some sections of the crowd’s reaction at the final whistle.

Sports Journalists’ Association sports writer of the year Jonathan Liew, making a rare visit to the Amex for The Observer, probably reflected the feelings of many in the stadium when he wrote: “Football at this level is an exceptionally intricate game in which the world’s best coaches plot out their strategies in stunning detail, compute its thousands of moving parts, make contingencies upon contingencies. It feels hopelessly simplistic to boil down the issues with Graham Potter’s complex and delicately balanced Brighton team to ‘just sign a striker’. But, you know. Sometimes you really do just have to sign a striker.


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Tariq Lamptey on Leeds stalemate

“Twenty shots, plenty of ambitious attacking football, their highest expected goals total of the season, and ultimately a familiar refrain. The wind blew in off the English Channel and the Amex howled and roared to keep out the cold, and yet still the ball refused to drop. There were numerous areas of encouragement: the marauding wing-backs Tariq Lamptey and Marc Cucurella, the sharp passing and movement in midfield.

“But equally Brighton are now without a win in eight, and an autumn of overachievement is threatening to give way to a winter of discontent. Perhaps this feels like a slightly harsh assessment for a team lying eighth in the Premier League table, but the smattering of boos in the ground at full-time [reflected] a fanbase whose expectations have been raised by the champagne football of recent months. Not all of them, you suspect, were there for the Withdean and the Goldstone years.”

In the Mail On Sunday, Riath Al-Samarrai thought that the evening had gone downhill after a spectacular start. “At least the fireworks were bright,” he wrote. “In the colours of the rainbow, they took off with their positive messaging into the cold, windy night before this match began. Shame everything that followed was so very grey.

“Not the game itself – that was actually decent for a 0-0. But if ever a result could mimic the bleakness of the weather. And if ever a result could be so utterly useless to all parties.


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PL Highlights: Albion 0 Leeds United 0

“Each side needed something more to snap out of their funks, and each left the opportunity of a winnable fixture on the table. So this was a draw that smelt of a loss, the most acute regrets of which will belong to Brighton. They controlled possession, they repeatedly marched the ball into dangerous places, or rather Tariq Lamptey did, and then the same old story was told. They create so well; they couldn't shoot a massive carp in a tiny barrel.

“If the first five games of this season offered new hopes via four wins, then their current run of six draws and two defeats in the past eight is the colder reality of their autumn. Graham Potter is a fine manager, but there's a good reason why fine strikers cost so much more.

“Perspective, and what a concept that might be for those home supporters who booed at full time, is they sit eighth in the Premier League. Eighth. Brighton. It is a very good season. But currently the graph is becoming a little worrying.

“Clearly the main cause was the finishing. Chances were missed or wasted by Neal Maupay, Leandro Trossard, Jakub Moder and Solly March in what was, effectively, a 20-shot act of mercy.”


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Potter: The players gave everything

Paul Rowan of the Sunday Times led on manager Graham Potter’s reaction to those boos. “Graham Potter was fuming at the Brighton & Hove Albion supporters who booed this result, a goalless draw hardly reflective of the dominance the home side had enjoyed,” he wrote. 

“’We did everything but score and showed great personality and great courage,’ said the Brighton head coach, who went out of his way to praise his players in the face of supporter dissatisfaction. 

“’We have a couple of young players who are pushing, but they are young and we have to help them in their careers. We are eighth in the Premier League and it is even more surprising the reaction we get from inside the ground at the end of the game.’

“Freezing conditions perhaps heightened the sense of grievance at the lack of goals to warm the mood. Leeds were unable to cope with the trickery and pace of Tariq Lamptey, with Junior Firpo struggling on his recall. The left back was booked in the fifth minute for hauling down lamptey, who had just crossed only for Jakub Moder to volley over.”

Praise for Lamptey was universal. In the Sunday Telegraph, Tom Prentki wrote that “Albion quickly set about Marcelo Bielsa’s side with Tariq Lamptey winning all of his early foot races with Leeds’ left back, Junior Firpo.

“The first chance came as Lamptey crossed from the byline for Jakub Moder to volley narrowly over the bar. A better chance came via the same route a few minutes later with Lamptey’s cross this time being helped on by Pascal Gross to Maupay at the far post who fluffed his lines.

“Kalvin Phillips had started the game at centre back but Bielsa soon moved him into midfield in an attempt to plug the gaps being exploited by the excellent Yves Bissouma.


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Extended PL Highlights: Albion 0 Leeds United 0

“Leeds were beginning to gain a foothold as Brighton were inches away from leading. Leandro Trossard collected the ball on the edge of the area and fired into the opposite corner before the slightest of touches from goalkeeper Illan Meslier helped it onto the post.”

Amex regular Tom Barclay of The Sun on Sunday joined in the praise for Lamptey. “The young Englishman was electric here and showed no rustiness despite missing the majority of 2021 with a hamstring injury,” he wrote.

“He created five chances in the first half alone, which was more than any other Albion player had managed in an entire game this season.

“Poor Junior Firpo was mercifully subbed at half-time by Marcelo Bielsa, so torrid a time was the Leeds defender having against the red-hot 21-year-old.

By Bennett Dean
Tariq Lamptey created five chances in the first half.

“But for all of Lamptey’s superb supply, it counted for nothing as the Seagulls suffered their recurring problem in the Premier League of failing to take their chances.

“Lamptey looked imperious right from the first whistle, deployed at right-wing rather than his usual defensive position.

“He should have had an assist inside four minutes when he laid the ball on a plate for Moder, but the Pole fired over.

“Firpo was booked a minute later for bringing down Lamptey, setting the tone for what would be a nightmare evening on the South Coast for the ex-Barcelona man.

“The first half was all the hosts - and mostly Lamptey - but it was Leandro Trossard who went closest to breaking the deadlock.

“Brighton’s tricky Belgian found space on the edge of the area and unleashed a terrific shot that was pushed onto the post by the deftest of finger tips from Illan Meslier.”

By Bennett Dean
Leandro Trossard saw his effort smack the post in the first half.

A less familiar name, Jamie Braidwood of The Independent, had an unusual and interesting take on the game, writing that “it’s simultaneously true to say it was reasonable to expect that Brighton against Leeds would have been better than this, while also accepting that a Premier League match has seemingly never been more consigned to finish as a damp and unhelpful 0-0 draw.

“Based on what we know from these teams, it doesn’t quite add up, and there are plenty of contradictions at play here.

“None are more confounding than the case of Tariq Lamptey. The 21-year-old was outstanding against Leeds, terrorising Junior Firpo and humiliating the former Barcelona defender into a half-time substitution thanks to a sublime attacking display at wing-back, in which he set up five chances in the first half alone.

“You might have thought that Lamptey’s return from a nine-month injury layoff could only have boosted Brighton’s fine start to the season, in which they sat fourth after eight matches played. But the contradiction lies in the fact that they have now yet to win any of his six appearances since his return.

“That is not his fault, of course, and if anyone deserved to be on the winning team here it was Lamptey, but it serves as an example of how both Brighton and Leeds are in a muddle and out of sync with reason.

“It must be said, though, that Brighton were by far the better team, at least in terms of chance creation. Maupay dragged two further opportunities wide, Jakub Moder also sliced two presentable chances over the bar while Leandro Trossard saw a clean strike tipped onto the post by Illan Meslier. The Leeds goalkeeper made another fine stop to guide Solly March’s deflected effort over the bar late in the match.” 

As revealing of Albion’s dominance was the fact even the visitors’ local paper admitted that their favourites had been fortunate to take a point. Stuart Rayner of the Yorkshire Post wrote that “Brighton and Hove Albion comfortably outplayed a Leeds United who were poor in possession and struggled badly in the first 45 minutes in particular to contain their attacks.

“It took two good Illan Meslier saves, some poor Seagulls finishing and the bad luck of Solly March hitting the post with the stretching goalkeeper beaten, but the visitors escaped with a point and a clean sheet.

“It could have been better still, Robert Sanchez twice making important saves from Leeds substitute Tyler Roberts. For a Welsh Leeds No 11 to have scored the winner on the 10th anniversary of Gary Speed's death would have been the stuff of fairytales but this was more of a grim tale on a bitterly cold night on the south coast.”