Leeds 2 Everton 1: Lessons learned from an Elland Road cup upset
Leeds 2 Everton 1: What lessons did we learn as Neil Warnock's United ran out surprise winners over their top-flight opponents?
Rodolph Austin emerging as the star man for Leeds this season
Signed from Norwegian club SK Brann for a bargain £300,000 in the summer, the Jamaican Midfielder has fast emerged as the key man in the Leeds midfield this season. Up against Marouane Fellaini in the Everton midfield, Austin was unfazed and worked tirelessly throughout both halves, capping his display with the 70th-minute goal to take his side two up and putting Leeds beyond reach. With Michael Brown making a rare start alongside him to carry out the dirty work, Austin was free to roam forward and excelled in the role that saw him awarded Player of the Year in Norway last season. His performance was perhaps only bettered by El-Hadji Diouf, with the Senegalese forward magnificent throughout. Calling upon all his experience and clearly relishing taking on one of his former club’s main rivals, Diouf combined well with Austin throughout to provide the service to Luciano Becchio in the Leeds attack.
Victor Anichebe failed to capitalise on rare start
The 24-year-old, beset by injuries in his still relatively short career, lead the line as star forward Nikica Jelavic was rested on the bench along with other star names Stephen Pienaar, Phil Jagielka and captain Phil Neville. Having scored in his side’s 3-0 win against Swansea at the weekend, the Capital One Cup was a chance for Anichebe to further establish himself in the starting XI. Frustrated for much of the match by Leeds’ grit and tactically astute defence, Anichebe struggled to impose himself on the game and his renowned physical power was subdued. There were some flashes of quality, however. When turning provider, the Nigerian picked out Stephen Naismith with a pinpoint cross only for the Scot to fire wide from just six yards out. But Everton were largely second best throughout, which made for a frustrating evening in the West Yorkshire rain for David Moyes and their large travelling support. Sylvain Distin’s 81st-minute goal to pull one back turned out to be a mere consolation, and aside from a potential penalty claims late on, Everton can have little complaints about the result.
The cup exit will renew Everton’s focus on the league
Being traditionally slow starters on the blue half of Liverpool, Everton have reversed the trend so far and have picked up some impressive results. Finding themselves lying in third after five games with three wins, a draw and a defeat, the Toffees’ positive starts leaves them in a position to capitalise for once, rather than playing catch-up. With six changes to the line-up that defeated Swansea at the weekend, Moyes is clearly putting his focus on the league this season and already had one eye on the upcoming home game against Southampton. With the likes of Baines, Jagielka, Jelavic, Howard and Neville ready to come back in at the weekend, Everton will fancy their chances of continuing their good start with a victory over a Southampton side still adjusting to life back in the top flight. How far they can go this season remains unclear, but you’d certainly expect David Moyes will fancy bettering last year’s seventh place finish and contend for the European places.
Neil Warnock was tactically astute throughout
The veteran Leeds boss, who says the win is the best he’s experienced in the League Cup as a manager, called on all his experience to subdue Everton, a team favoured by the majority to win at Elland Road. From the off, his players were doubling up on the main threats of their Premier League opponents. Michael Brown and Michael Tonge took care of Fellani in the Everton midfield, while Aidan White and Danny Pugh stuck to Kevin Mirallas on the wing. Having managed to build a competitive team on a shoestring budget in the summer, Warnock’s Leeds showcased all the qualities that have served the Yorkshireman so well in his long managerial career: Commitment, determination and organisation. From the solid back four marshalled so well by Jason Pearce, to the committed midfield and the tireless running in attack, Leeds simply bettered Everton in every department. It is certain that if Leeds can consistently produce more displays like this evening’s throughout the season, then a place in the play-offs will be a strong possibility.