Leeds United were held to a draw against Brighton & Hove Albion at Elland Road in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon, and despite restoring parity on two occasions have fallen into the relegation zone following wins for Bournemouth and Everton.
The affair itself was wholly enjoyable, and the roaring home support was treated to an enthralling contest laden with goals, but the point clinched was marred by the knowledge that victory would have left the Whites treading water in safety.
Jack Harrison was the man of the hour, placing an assist for Patrick Bamford in the first half before rectifying his unfortunate own goal with a finessed strike as the match approached the closing stages to ensure that Leeds did not suffer consecutive defeats in the English top-flight.
Manager Javi Gracia’s side now have 23 points from 26 games, languishing in 19th place and one point adrift of safety, with bottom club Southampton – two points behind United – still to play this weekend.
There will be several pleasing performances for the club’s Spanish boss, but midfielder Marc Roca let his squad down after a forgettable afternoon from the centre of the park.
How did Marc Roca perform against Brighton?
Roca joined Leeds from Bayern Munich for an initial £10m in the summer, and has made 22 league appearances for his outfit this season, starting on 20 occasions.
Over the duration of the campaign, as per Sofascore, the 26-year-old has maintained a respectable average 6.84 rating, but he found little success against the Seagulls.
His 6.1 rating on the afternoon was the lowest of any player on the pitch, level with the under-par Brenden Aaronson, and the former Spain U21 international was withdrawn after just 66 minutes having been largely nullified by the robust away team.
Chastised for his “tame” effort on goal by journalist Graham Smyth, Roca completed 39 touches and completed 84% of his passes but failed to offer much meaningful contribution, seeing three shots blocked and losing six of his seven ground duels (86%).
Losing possession seven times and committing two fouls, the dynamic midfielder certainly failed to exhibit the useful side of his tool kit, with Smyth also lamenting him for being “deceived” by the opposition.
With Leeds Live giving the £50k-per-week dud a 5/10 match rating and branding him ‘sloppy in possession‘, Gracia will demand greater fluidity if Roca is to play a part in staving off the threat of relegation.
With Leeds now wedged into the danger of the drop zone, Gracia can ill afford to let many chances to secure victory slip through his fingers, with the congested nature of the bottom half of the table meaning that fortunes can turn around swiftly.
Therefore, Roca’s poor display on Saturday let the side down as the Spaniard’s struggles played a part in the Whites’ failure to pick up all three points, which leaves them in the bottom three and in danger of relegation.
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