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After an excellent start to life under new boss Thomas Christiansen, Leeds United seem to have hit a sudden roadblock in the past week or so. Two defeats in the last seven days against Cardiff City and Sheffield Wednesday have left the Whites at 5th place in the Championship table, after they enjoyed a good run on top of the division.
A week ago, it seemed like Christiansen’s troops could do nothing wrong, but now everything seems to be going wrong for them. Gianni Alioski has hit a lean patch after an exciting start and the defence looks soft and exposed. But the biggest worry has been how goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald has been found out, after a blistering beginning to life in England.
The German was bought in the summer from Werder Bremen and his was a signing that did not fill the Leeds’ supporters with great confidence, considering that he had let in 13 goals in his last three games for the German outfit. However, it looked like the Yorkshire based outfit had done a brilliant piece of business, as Wiedwald went on a run of six games without conceding, after the opening day fixture against Bolton Wanderers.
But since losing to Millwall last month, things have gone pear-shaped for the 27-year old. In his last four games, the German stopper has conceded 9 goals and the daggers are out, claiming for his head. This has shed the light on what had been papered over by some strong defensive displays in the earlier parts of the season – Wiedwald is clearly not up to the mark.
The earlier series of clean sheets were just a false dawn. The Whites’ defence had been so formidable in those games, that the goalkeeper was hardly tested. But in the past weeks, his frailties have been laid bare for everyone to see.
Against Sheffield, the German was at fault for Gary Hooper’s goals as he did not show enough strength and command in his box. He never looked convincing enough when coming out against aerial balls and looks nervy each time he is presented with a physical challenge.
Having sold Robert Green in the summer, Leeds have Andy Lonergan in the ranks, who did well in the cup tie against Burnley, starring in the penalty shootout. The former Preston North end custodian has a great amount of experience in the Championship, having played over 325 games in the English second division. He knows what is needed to succeed at this stage.
With Leeds struggling for form away from home, with their defence looking soft and further hampered by Pontus Jansson’s injury, Christiansen cannot afford to have a goalie who doesn’t exude confidence and doesn’t assure security between the sticks. So it seems like the time is ripe for the Danish manager to drop Wiedwald from the playing XI and give Lonergan a chance to prove himself.