Leeds United twice came from behind yesterday to claim an important point against Brighton and Hove Albion, and whilst the show was stolen by Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford, Luke Ayling stood out for all the wrong reasons.
The two attackers finally seemed to show glimpses of a return to their top form, and despite the former tapping into his own net at one point, they played their role in halting the marauding Seagulls who had seemed unstoppable under Roberto De Zerbi.
The Italian has fit into their system with ease since taking over from Graham Potter, continuing to utilise some of their lesser-known talents to shock the Premier League.
Yesterday marked yet another stellar display from Kaoru Mitoma in particular, who terrorised the aforementioned right-back with his pace and trickery.
It was always bound to be a tough game for the ageing talisman, but the Japan international was relentless in his desire to tear him inside out. As such, it could be a warning sign for Javi Gracia to perhaps now look to Rasmus Kristensen for future matches when defending against wingers of Mitoma’s ilk.
How did Luke Ayling play against Brighton?
Featuring for the full game and captaining the side, the 31-year-old’s 6.3 rating was the second-worst of anyone on the pitch as he was dribbled past twice and won just two of his seven competed duels (via Sofascore).
Meanwhile, Mitoma recorded three key passes and created two big chances, playing a huge role in both of the goals.
For the first, he peeled off at the back post as his header found the free man in the box, whilst the second he drove to the outside and his devastating delivery could only be put into Leeds’ own net.
Journalist Graham Smyth even took to Twitter to highlight one particular period of play, where he set up one of those earlier chances that likely should have been scored: “Brighton should be ahead again. Mitoma in behind Ayling, left him for dead, pulls it back and Mac Allister sidefoots wide from near the penalty spot. Golden opportunity.”
Although Mitoma will terrorise plenty of defenders, perhaps this particular outing will have shown Gracia that Ayling is perhaps not the man to lead them into the run-in.
His performances at the back end of last season serve to support this after his rather ridiculous red card against Arsenal.
The £20k-per-week stalwart was shown up yesterday by a top winger, and it could now pave the way for Kristensen to finally get his chance under the new boss.
- Man United's £13m-rated "Monster" Could Replace CasemiroOn-loan midfielder Marcel Sabitzer could ease Casemiro blow
- Tottenham Players Excited By "Brilliant" ManagerTottenham players "would love" the club to appoint Mauricio Pochettino to replace Antonio Conte.
- Tottenham Dealt Blow In Pursuit Of "Fantastic" CoachTottenham Hotspur have missed out on Thomas Tuchel, one of the managers on their shortlist.
- Canada comfortably shut out Curacao with a 2-0 victory in the CONCACAF Nations LeagueCanada glide past Curacao with a 2-0 victory in the CONCACAF Nations League
- Republic of Ireland 0-1 France: Player ratings as Pavard screamer beats IrishPlayer ratings from the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2024 qualifier against France on Monday night.
- The 10 stadiums in Germany hosting Euro 2024The lowdown on the ten stadiums in Germany that are hosting games at Euro 2024.