Jack Harrison was the hero at Elland Road on Saturday as Leeds United stormed past QPR 2-0 in Round 15 of the EFL Championship. The Manchester City loanee helped the Whites climb up to 2nd in the standings, just behind West Brom on goal difference, with a man-of-the-match performance that was marked by a goal and an assist.
Leeds came into the game on the back of consecutive draws against promotion rivals Preston and Sheffield Wednesday, with Mark Warburton’s QPR looking to continue their fine start to the campaign and give the West Yorkshire giants a real run for their money.
However, in the end, the result was a pretty straightforward victory for Marcelo Bielsa’s side and the visitors hardly ever threatened to take anything away from the game, with Leeds very much the dominant force throughout the ninety minutes.
And Harrison’s brilliance at the weekend should have been enough to send the fans drooling over his recent upturn in form.
The 22-year-old had largely blown hot and cold in the first couple of months but his performances in the last five games suggest that he is gradually beginning to come into his own, which is certainly a big positive for the Whites moving forward in the campaign.
Having accumulated meagre returns of 4 goals and 3 assists in 39 league appearances for Leeds last time around, Bielsa’s decision to bring Jack Harrison back for a second consecutive loan spell from Man City raised some eyebrows in the summer.
A wave of criticism looked pretty much around the corner after the winger had failed to score or set up a goal in eleven appearances across all competitions since netting in the 3-1 victory over Bristol City in the first round of the Championship back in August.
To that end, however, he has really turned the screws in the last few games and Harrison’s exploits in recent weeks have been quite a contrast to his form before this ongoing purple patch.
It’s been an impressive return to form for the Man City loanee, who has silenced his critics and ended his drought with a goal and four assists in his last five Championship outings, as per whoscored.
Harrison has risen to the occasion several times in the absence of veteran playmaker Pablo Hernandez in the last few games and has by far been the club’s key creative outlet.
The 22-year-old outfoxed the QPR defence with a clever step-over and subsequently cut inside before laying it off for Tyler Roberts, who rippled the net with a fine finish to make it 1-0 in favour of the Whites on Saturday. Harrison thereafter put the game to bed in the dying stages with a neat close-range finish to seal all three points for his team.
To put things into perspective, the fans at Elland Road have every reason to be optimistic with Jack Harrison’s return to form over the last month, particularly with Patrick Bamford struggling to find the net on a regular basis and Pablo Hernandez still on the comeback trail from a hamstring issue.
The Man City loanee has been one of the club’s attacking mainstays since the start of the previous campaign, and while he has promised more than what he has delivered over the past twelve months, Bielsa should take this purple patch as a sign of better things to come from the youngster.
The 22-year-old’s talent and potential have never been in doubt and it was always going to be a matter of him improving on his end product in the final third, which he seems to have done in recent weeks.
As was the case last season, the lack of a prolific striker could once again prove to be a stumbling block for Leeds in their pursuit of promotion, but if Jack Harrison manages to build on his recent purple patch and accumulate some decent goal returns in the coming months, it might go a long way towards masking one of the club’s blatant deficiencies.
All in all, Jack Harrison is pretty much central to the Whites’ promotion surge this term and his return to form should give the club faithful plenty to cheer about.
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