When Marcelo Bielsa signed a one-year contract extension with Leeds, the club and their supporters knew their everlasting promotion charge to the Premier League will be sure to continue.
In the first few fixtures against Bristol City, Nottingham Forest and Salford City, Leeds have showed the sensational Bielsa-influenced style that was destined for a place in the top division last season.
However, they have also showed similar hindrances which halted their ultimate destiny.
So with this mind, let’s take a look at what we have learnt so far…
A trait of Bielsa’s impressive tactical style is his demand to be dominant on the ball. Possession does not equate to results, but how Leeds use their possession is a contribution to why they are one of the best teams in the division.
In every game so far, they have piled on pressure from start. In their opening 3-1 away win to the Robins, they recorded 59% possession and an astonishing 18 shots. Leeds continued their domination versus Forest at Elland Road, where they starved their opposition of the ball with 68% possession, which helped the home team to get off 15 attempts at goal, (in contrasts to Forest’s 6).
While statistics don’t always paint a clear picture, these stats do show the commanding style Bielsa’s employ’s his team to have. The authority Leeds showed against potentially two play-off contenders, suggests these dominant stats will be a constant theme throughout the season.
Despite Bielsa’s side imposing their will on their opposition, similar signs of worries appeared in the draw to Nottingham Forest. Even though Leeds bullied Forest for the majority of the first-half, they failed to convert the chances. In the second-half, it was a similar story until Pablo Hernandez put the Whites in front.
Nonetheless, chances were squandered and Leeds had no reply when Grabban equalised. From Leeds’ 15 shots, only four were on target. This raises more concerns around Patrick Bamford’s capabilities to be the clinical striker the Yorkshire side needs. Bamford has taken nine of Leeds’ 28 shots in the league, but has only scored one goal.
If Leeds are going to be promoted, they are going to need Bamford to improve his current 11% conversation rate.
Many questions surrounded Pontus Jansson’s sudden move to Brentford. One of which surrounded how Leeds will adapt to missing a key member of their team and Liam Cooper’s partner in the heart of their defence. The early signs are positive.
Brighton loanee Ben White has comfortably fitted in as Cooper’s new partner. In the first two league games, he has impressed with an average of three tackles, two interceptions, 3.5 clearances and 0.5 blocks. He has also established an 84.7% successful passing rate, while making 72 passes in each. Lastly, he achieved his first clean sheet on Tuesday night, albeit to League Two opposition Salford City.
These early statistics show White fulfils Bielsa’s role as a ball-playing centre-back, in addition to being a imposing defender.