Three positives Leeds United can take from FA Cup defeat ahead of West Ham United rematch

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Leeds United will be looking to return to winning ways when they travel to West Ham United this weekend.

This is the sides’ second meeting in seven days following the Whites’ 2-0 defeat in the FA Cup third-round at the London Stadium on Sunday.

Goals from Manuel Lanzini and Jarrod Bowen sent the Hammers through to round four despite a determined second-half display from Leeds, who crashed out at this stage of the competition for the fifth successive year.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side showed plenty of character after going a goal down and can take a number of positives from the game heading into another difficult-looking trip to West Ham.

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Here are three positives the Whites can take from the FA Cup encounter.

Second-half fighting spirit

It’s safe to say Leeds didn’t bow down after conceding the first goal in controversial circumstances and battled well during the second-half in an attempt to get back into the contest.

Although the Whites had just one shot on goal in the opening period, Bielsa’s men seemed to have an extra ounce of energy after the interval and looked more dangerous in the final third.

Raphinha’s arrival helped as he gave them more quality in the final third, while Stuart Dallas’ creativity proved to be influential in setting up Leeds’ two best opportunities.

Raphinha came on a second-half substitute in the 2-0 defeat at West Ham United. (Image: Getty Images)

The Northern Irishman was involved in the build-up as Mateusz Klich volleyed the ball across the face of goal and found Jack Harrison, but the winger couldn’t keep his effort down.

Daniel James then squandered a glorious opportunity to level after Harrison ran onto Dallas’ pass and the cross was met by the Welshman, who was unable to direct his shot on target.

Leeds kept piling on the pressure in the latter stages, but were undone on the counter-attack as some neat work from Antonio allowed Bowen space to fire home beyond Meslier.

If the Whites can show the same fighting spirit and find a cutting edge inside the 18-yard box, they will give themselves a good chance of getting a result.

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Hjelde’s impressive debut

Despite the result, Leo Hjelde had an afternoon to remember as he made his Leeds debut in front of over 55,000 supporters in the FA Cup at the London Stadium.

The 18-year-old arrived at the Whites from Celtic in the summer and has been a mainstay in the club’s under-23s side, impressing at both centre-back and left-back.

His form for Mark Jackson’s team earned him a start against West Ham and it’s safe to say he took it with both hands alongside Diego Llorente in the heart of the Leeds defence.

Leo Hjelde has gained plenty of praise after his Leeds United debut. (Image: Getty Images)

Hjelde didn’t look out of place in the side and he frustrated Antonio, who struggled for opportunities throughout the game, while Bowen wasn’t as effective as he has been in recent weeks.

He was influential in an impressive Leeds display, recording four clearances, three duels and three ball recoveries.

In possession, Hjelde had 74 touches and completed 53 of his 65 passes during the game, demonstrating his ability to slot straight into a Bielsa system and work the ball from the back.

With Llorente suspended for Sunday’s rematch, Junior Firpo a doubt after he went off injured and Liam Cooper and Charlie Cresswell still sidelined, Hjelde put a good case forward for his involvement again at the weekend.

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West Ham limited to few clear-cut chances

West Ham’s superb recent record in the fixture was well-documented ahead of the game, with Moyes’ men winning the previous three meetings since Leeds’ promotion to the Premier League.

On each occasion, the Hammers have created lots of opportunities and arguably opened Leeds up far too easily at times, registering 56 shots in the three matches, with 20 of those on target.

That’s far too many and the Whites were subsequently punished by conceding six goals, but it felt like a completely different story on the weekend.

Stuart Dallas was given a rest for the trip to the London Stadium, but ended up coming on at half-time for debutant Lewis Bate. (Image: Getty Images)

Despite having the better of the first-half, the Hammers didn’t conjure up too many chances, as Bowen saw an effort cleared off the line, while Lanzini scored the other clear-cut opening in controversial circumstances.

In the second period, Leeds dominated possession and controlled the game, with Raphinha and Dallas integral to the Whites’ positive approach and the pushed West Ham deeper and deeper with sustained attacks.

It forced the Hammers to sit back and they weren’t allowed to counter-attack as easily, with Robin Koch, Mateusz Klich and Dallas vital at pressing high to win the ball back.

Ryan Fredericks had the Hammers’ best chance in the second-half, before Bowen wrapped up the win on the break in added-time, but the scoreline didn’t tell the full story after the interval.

Nevertheless, Bielsa’s side will be looking to take the positives from the FA Cup meeting into the Premier League clash, whey they are searching for a second successive win after beating Burnley on January 2.

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