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Tactical Analysis: Leeds United Dominate Sheffield United

Leeds United have dominated an unimpressive Sheffield at Elland Road on Saturday to clinch a 2-1 victory in the Premier League. The Whites completely dominated the Blades on the field, and the scoreline does not reflect the gap between both sides in terms of their performance. The visitors couldn’t handle the attacking tactics of Bielsa’s side, and it always looked like the hosts would net three points to their tally.

Let’s take a look at how the Leeds vs Sheffield fixture panned out on the field:

 

RECENT RESULTS

Leeds entered the match looking for back-to-back wins after their 2-1 victory against Fulham before the international break. The Whites were a little inconsistent in the recent past – they have lost two of their last five matches, but held Chelsea to an impressive draw before dominating Fulham.

Heckingbottom returned to Elland Road for the first time on Saturday since he was sacked in June 2018 after only four months in the job to make way for the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa. The 43-year-old was put in charge of the Blades until the end of the season following Chris Wilder’s departure just before the international break.

Sheffield entered the match with much to fight for, after receiving a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Leicester City. With that loss, Sheffield United have lost five successive away matches in all competitions without finding the net once. The Blades sit at the bottom of the league, and their chances of avoiding relegation appear slim.

 

LINE-UPS

Marcelo Bielsa has made one change to his XI that beat Fulham – Liam Cooper is back in the defence with Pascal Struijk making way. Bielsa continues with his tried and tested 4-1-4-1 line up.

Starting XI: Illan Meslier, Luke Ayling, Diego Llorente, Liam Cooper, Ezgjan Alioski, Kalvin Phillips, Raphinha, Stuart Dallas, Tyler Roberts, Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford

Substitutes: Kiko Casilla, Pascal Struijk, Robin Koch, Hélder Costa, Pablo Hernández, Mateusz Klich, Jamie Shackleton, Ian Carlo Poveda, Rodrigo

Sheffield have fielded the same side that faced Chelsea in the FA cup. Paul Heckingbottom continues to field his side in a 3-5-2 lineup.

Starting XI: Aaron Ramsdale, George Baldock, Phil Jagielka, Enda Stevens, Jayden Bogle, John Lundstram, Oliver Norwood, John Fleck, Ben Osborn, David McGoldrick, Oliver McBurnie

Substitutes: Wes Foderingham, Ethan Ampadu, Max Lowe, Kean Bryan, John Egan, Iliman Ndiaye, Oliver Burke, Rhian Brewster, Lys Mousset

LEEDS IN POSSESSION

Leeds strategy for the night depended on attacking Sheffield from both sides of the field, moving forward with the pace and precision they were known for. The charge was led by Patrick Bamford, and later by Rodrigo, but it was Jack Harrison who delivered the first goal for Leeds in the 12th minute

Rapinha has been a bit wasteful, repeatedly giving away possession of the ball and making some sloppy passes, but Leeds defences have been able to hold off any counterplay. Diego Llorente and Kalvin Phillips scarcely allowed a breathing moment for McBurnie and Osborn, regaining possession for Leeds with some brilliant tackles.

Leeds have had multiple chances to improve their lead in the second half – Leeds’ forwards constructed numerous passes into the Sheffield box, only to finish with poor execution from the strikers. The Whites had seven shots on target, but were able to score only one goal from them – six were saved by Aaron Ramsdale. There were a further eight shots off-target, showing the pressure Bielsa’s men piled on the Blades.

 

SHEFFIELD IN POSSESSION

Sheffield have had little chance of building constructive play with the Leeds defences marking them man-to-man throughout the game. Their only goal came off a brilliant shot from Osborn who converted a pass from the right from Oli McBurnie in the extra time just before the break, capitalising on a mistake from Rapinha. Otherwise, the strikers were rarely left unmarked, and they had to contend with the few opportunities presented by sloppy passing by Leeds in the midfield.

Aaron Ramsdale has been the star of Sheffield for a while and proved his worth again on Saturday night. He was able to hold off multiple attempts from Leeds’ strikers, denying the Whites any further increase in the lead.

It was Phil Jagielka’s own goal that put the Whites on top, and this is Jagielka’s seventh own goal in the Premier League. But it was Roberts’ impressive delivery of the ball to Harrison, who fired a low cross into a dangerous area and Jagielka, under pressure from Raphinha, slid in and scored the goal by mistake.

 

CONCLUSION

Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa have brought an attacking style of football into the Premier League, and their every game provides entertainment. Saturday’s fixture was no different, and Leeds deserved more goals than the scoreline suggests. Patrick Bamford, Rodrigo, Harrison and Stuart Dallas have all turned strikers this weekend, and it was pure luck and the feats of Ramsdale that kept the score low. However, the Whites have bagged three points and moved into the top half of the table with 42 points from 30 fixtures.

 

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