Buoyed by the full return of both Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe, Leeds United returned to winning ways last night against rock-bottom Ipswich Town with a 2-0 victory at Elland Road.
The Marcelo Bielsa hype train has been forced to put the breaks on in recent weeks following Leeds’ disappointing run of form, but the wheels are back in motion once again following an encouraging win.
A dominant victory which saw Roofe get on the scoresheet on his first start at centre-forward since August 31st and a clean sheet for Bailey Peacock-Farrell left the Elland Road faithful with a renewed sense of optimism at the final whistle, but it was the return of Hernandez which really caught the eye.
The Spanish playmaker has been missing from the starting eleven since he scored in the 3-0 demolition of Norwich back in August, and he wasted no time in showing both Bielsa and the supporters what they’ve been missing with an outstanding display against Ipswich.
Hernandez provided both assists in Yorkshire to take his tally to 4 for the season to cap an all-round display of the highest quality.
Bielsa duly paid tribute to the veteran in the aftermath of proceedings (via Yorkshire Evening Post): “He was very important in today’s game. He played as if he had not been injured. He was very intelligent.”
That Hernandez slotted seamlessly back into the starting eleven is a testament to his quality and professionalism.
While the Championship season is arduous and full of lingering surprises, his telling contribution evoked an ominous conclusion which Bielsa will be reluctant to face up to: Hernandez is fundamental, if not essential to Leeds’ promotion bid.
The brilliance of Samu Saiz’s early season form is rapidly becoming a distant memory and Hernadnez represents the next most natural creative outlet in Leeds’ squad, so his performances will undoubtedly shape their promotion bid.
It is no coincidence that in the 6 fixtures Hernandez has started this season, Leeds have won 5 and drawn 1, scoring a whopping 16 goals in the process.
Only Roofe’s presence has produced a comparable level of success but without the intricate guile of Hernandez he is unlikely to continue finding the back of the net with the same level of consistency – his headed goal from Hernandez’s cross served to prove that.
With these points in mind it’s fair to conclude that another major setback for Hernandez could prove terminal to Leeds’ bid for an automatic promotion spot, especially with the notoriously hectic winter period looming on the horizon.
Bielsa has been tasked with ending Leeds’ exile from the Premier League this season and the feeling so far is that he possesses the tools from which to achieve that aim but, without Hernandez, the Argentine would be missing a pivotal cog in his machine.
All Bielsa and the Leeds fans can do now is pray that lady luck is on Hernandez’s side for the remainder of the season.
Leeds fans – thoughts on Hernandez’s importance to Leeds’ promotion bid?
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