Leeds United have caused a wave in the Premier League since their promotion and people are already looking to take them down a peg.
This is hardly a surprise given the confidence with which they have approached the opening weeks of the season, or the manner in which they have approached each match. At no point have they wavered in the face of financially superior opponents.
While Leeds have continued to attack, they have suffered defensively and this is a problem for Marcelo Bielsa to consider. With a total of 13.4 expected goals against from seven matches played, they have the worst defence in the division by that metric (via FBRef). They have conceded 13 so far, the fifth-worst record in the league, including two matches where they have shipped four, and another where they conceded three.
These numbers are not fantastic reading, but given that they have already played Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester City, three of the best four attacks in the division by xG generated from last season (via FBRef), there are some extenuating circumstances.
In attack though, they have been one of the most potent sides in the division. Only Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester have generated more xG from the opening seven rounds of the season, while they are joint eight in terms of goals scored (via FBRef).
Both Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo are generating more than 0.5 xG per 90, while they have four players averaging more than 0.5 xG plus expected assists per 90 (via FBRef). In simple terms, Leeds have one of the best attacks in the Premier League and one that has already troubled some of its best teams.
Monday was an off night, unfortunately, with Bamford out of sorts and key injuries impinging on Bielsa’s game plan. However, that should be considered more of an exception, rather than the rule, given the Whites’ start to the season.
For Leeds going forward, it is simple. Find a way to defend better without compromising the attack. If they are able to do that, even their harshest critics may have to accept that they were wrong.
In other Leeds United news, Graham Smyth’s shared an update on links to QSI.