Leeds' Christmas wishlist: What do Thomas Christiansen's side need for promotion?
By Tom Mordey
Last Updated: 26/12/17 7:32am
The halfway point of the season is here and once again Leeds are targeting promotion in the Sky Bet Championship.
But what do they need to make sure they go one better than last year and reach at least the play-offs?
Ahead of their trip to Burton on Boxing Day, which is live on Sky Sports Football, we take a look at Thomas Christiansen's wishlist...
A protective shield for Saiz
The Spaniard in the No 10 position has been the star turn this season. Signed as an unknown quantity in the summer from Huesca, a second division Spanish side, Samuel Saiz is the diamond plucked from Leeds' plentiful overseas transfer dealings in the last window.
In all competitions, he's the club's joint-top scorer with nine and has also provided the most assists in the squad with five. Everything Leeds do well comes through Saiz and his creative importance was highlighted on Saturday as they struggled to break Hull down. For Christiansen's side to go up this season, they need Saiz fully fit from now until May. A protective shield is required.
A new striker
Christiansen hasn't quite found the right solution up top yet. His formation choice ensures Leeds only need one striker, but he has mixed and matched up there with varying degrees of success since the sale of Chris Wood.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga was signed on loan from Hamburg to fill the void and on face value, it looks like he has done just that. Five goals in 11 league games is a good return, but his movement and work rate have also been questioned by sections of the Leeds support, especially during their barren run during September and October.
Kemar Roofe has also led the line, scoring a crucial hat-trick away at QPR and he has nine goals in all competitions. But Roofe hasn't quite displayed the level of consistency required in that position to fire a side to promotion. Summer signing Caleb Ekuban puts himself about but has struggled with injury, while fellow new arrival Jay-Roy Grot has failed to settle yet. A new striker in January should be near the top of the shopping list.
Felix Wiedwald was signed from Werder Bremen in the summer, displacing Rob Green in the process. But things haven't gone completely to plan. Wiedwald has struggled to adapt to the physicality of the league and Andy Lonergan's form was mixed after taking his place.
Leeds seem more comfortable with the style the boss is trying to implement at the club with Wiedwald playing the ball out from the back, but some of his errors have been costly so far. There have also been good performances in wins over Norwich and Hull, but in January Christiansen must decide whether to stick or twist.
The left-back role is currently filled by Gaetano Berardi, but even he has recently admitted that the club should replace him with a better player. "It's not my normal position but like every year I try to do my best - every week and every session," he said. "I know probably this team needs a better player than me but I just want to play and do my best every Saturday."
The effort and application is there but he can often struggle against the better wingers in the Championship. Vurnon Anita has also spent time out of position in the role and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, signed on loan from Manchester United, has made just one Championship appearance. It's an area where Christiansen desperately needs to strengthen.
Consistency against the top sides
Leeds' play-off push has been founded by beating the sides below them. The early-season run that saw the club top the table in September came after beating all of the current bottom four. Where Leeds have found life harder is against sides pushing for promotion. Hammered at Wolves, out-muscled and out-thought at Cardiff, pipped by Derby and stunned by Sheffield United.
They did draw with Aston Villa at Elland Road and the standout result remains the 3-0 victory away at Bristol City. But when those reverse fixtures arrive, Leeds need more from those games if they're to go up this season.
Don't miss the Sky Bet Championship clash between Burton and Leeds on Boxing Day, live on Sky Sports Football from 2.45pm and Sky Sports Main Event from 3pm