Leeds United vs Brentford. Premier League.
Report and free match highlights as Leeds' winless run was extended to six matches; Brentford goalkeeper David Raya produced a number of saves to deny Rodrigo; the Bees failed to register a shot on target; Jesse Marsch's side missed the chance to move three points clear of the drop zone
Sunday 22 January 2023 20:37, UK
Leeds were held to a 0-0 draw by resilient Brentford in a lively game at Elland Road as neither side were able to make major inroads in their contrasting Premier League bids.
Jesse Marsch's Leeds team were hoping to put distance between themselves and the bottom three, while the Bees, on a run of eight games unbeaten, missed the opportunity to climb into the league's coveted top six.
"Points are crucial for us at the moment," Leeds forward Jack Harrison told Sky Sports. "They [Brentford] are a tough team to break down. They play a deep block and make it difficult for teams to penetrate."
The stalemate will suit Brentford better having now reached the 30-point mark in record time (the quickest in their top-flight history), while Leeds continue to sit precariously above the relegation zone - one point ahead of Bournemouth in 18th.
Bees goalkeeper David Raya was tested by Rodrigo on a couple of occasions and he also denied Wilfried Gnonto and Brenden Aaronson - with Leeds notching up six efforts on target to the visitors' zero - but Brentford's backline proved too stubborn and resolute to be breached.
It was a frustrating afternoon for the home side, who were in desperate need of all three points after winning only two of their previous 16 matches in the top flight - the fewest of any side in the division.
"We lacked the last-action quality but it will come," Marsch insisted post-match.
There had been 14 goals shared in the three Premier League games between Leeds and Brentford before this meeting, making it logical to assume this latest encounter would be packed with goalmouth action. Unfortunately, the reality was somewhat different.
The visitors probed in the first period, while Leeds responded in the second, but neither side did enough to warrant a winning outcome in a scrappy and disjointed contest, with Brentford unable to land a single shot on target.
Brentford's Raya was by far the busier goalkeeper - he produced the afternoon's decisive save when turning aside Gnonto's second-half effort - but the quality and cutting edge in the final third underwhelmed throughout.
Leeds' club-record signing Georginio Rutter was an option from the bench that Marsch chose to overlook, instead introducing Patrick Bamford late on, who offered more of a focal point. The striker provided Luis Sinisterra with a sight of goal a few minutes from time, but the substitute got the ball caught under his feet before being crowded out.
Leeds fans then held their breath as Brentford right-back Mads Roerslev stole in at the far post in the closing stages only to fire disappointingly into the side-netting.
Leeds: Meslier (8), Ayling (7), Koch (8), Wober (8), Struijk (7), Roca (7), Adams (7), Harrison (6), Aaronson (6), Gnonto (7), Rodrigo (6).
Subs: Sinisterra (6), Bamford (6), Greenwood (n/a).
Brentford: Raya (8), Mee (9), Pinnock (7), Ajer (7), Henry (7), Jensen (7), Norgaard (7), Dasilva (6), Rasmussen (6), Mbeumo (6), Toney (6).
Subs: Janelt (6), Wissa (6).
Player of the match: Ben Mee
Leeds manager Jesse Marsch:
"We're disappointed not to get more out of it but the performance was really strong - we were stable. Even on set-pieces against a good team we looked in control.
"We lacked the last-action quality but it will come. A strong tactical performance, clean in so many ways. There is momentum. It doesn't necessarily reflect in the result but we can tell we're playing better and better.
"Brentford are very stable defensively. They defend very deep, so breaking them down is not so easy. We know we can score goals.
"It's not been easy for us [to get clean sheets]. Really strong in the back. We're in a good way - points in this league come at a premium. It's not easy but we're going to keep getting better."
Brentford manager Thomas Frank:
"It was a 0-0 game. Neither side managed to create a big chance or a big moment. We defended very well, giving very little away. We showed great mentality and attitude.
"On the day, we didn't show enough coolness. Second half we have five or six opportunities to create a big chance but we didn't do that. It was the final quality we lacked today.
"Leeds play with great intensity and pressure, they are difficult to play against. Today a very difficult away ground - I always want more but I like the foundation and the solidness and the way we defended.
"We are unbeaten in eight and that's very difficult in the Premier League. Usually only the top six can do that. When you can't win, for whatever reason, get a point."
Sky Sports' Laura Hunter
Jesse Marsch is insistent his team are close to clicking, it's just the 'final action' that needs refinement. Problem is, getting the final action correct is not only the most difficult thing to do in football, it's the most crucial. Leeds were not as close to achieving success in the final third as their optimistic manager suggested after the game, albeit they were much improved defensively.
An encounter that was once rich in goals, and goalmouth action, failed to deliver either. Leeds had plenty of cut and thrust, and they worked the ball well in second-half spells, but all of David Raya's six saves were routine - he was never at full tilt.
Perhaps this is the start of pragmatic Leeds. Perhaps we, as onlookers, need to temper our expectations. Under Marcelo Bielsa the Yorkshire side thrilled week in, week out, but that proved to be unsustainable in the world's most competitive league. It was landing Leeds in trouble.
Marsch's side do not entertain in the same way but they are building a solid foundation. Centre-half Max Wober looked decent on his first Premier League start. Maybe record-signing Georginio Rutter - a forward - should have been afforded the same opportunity to impress.
Leeds turn their attention to the FA Cup next weekend, as they travel to either Accrington Stanley or Boreham Wood for their fourth-round clash on January 28.
Marsch's side return to Premier League action with a trip to Nottingham Forest, live on Sky Sports on February 5, kick-off 2pm.
The Whites then host Manchester United on Super Sunday on the following weekend, with matches against relegation rivals Everton and Southampton ending their schedule for the month.
Brentford's elimination from the FA Cup means they have next weekend off. The Bees return to Premier League action with a home match against Southampton on February 4, kick-off 3pm.
Frank's side then have London derbies against Arsenal and Crystal Palace later in the month, before travelling to Manchester United on February 26.