By George Overhill

8th Mar, 2022 | 9:10pm

The Athletic statistics show significant Leeds United improvement under Jesse Marsch

Leeds United underwent a major statistical improvement in Jesse Marsch’s first game in charge, according to The Athletic.

The American oversaw a good performance in the 1-0 loss against Leicester after a string of heavy defeats saw Marcelo Bielsa removed as manager.

And despite the lack of points to show for it, the new boss’ optimism looks to be justified by the turnaround in expected goals (xG) for and against.

Mark Carey writes in his analysis for The Athletic: “A simple look at the numbers does support Marsch’s optimism, as Leeds created chances worthy of nearly two goals across the course of the game – far superior to their opponents on the day (1.97 xG vs 0.34 xG). 

“In fact, their expected goal difference – which considers the quality of chances created and conceded – was their best of the season so far. If that game were to play out again, the numbers suggest you might have seen a different score. 

“Contrast that expected goal difference with their previous away game in a 6-0 loss to Liverpool, and you can see why there are reasons for Leeds fans to be encouraged by their first game under Marsch.”

A start

The fact that the xG difference in the Liverpool thrashing was over four in favour of the Anfield side can be partly put down to their quality, but the Whites were abject that night.

Leicester are by no means on the same level, but that doesn’t matter since points are vital whoever they come against right now.

It is a boost to see that the new manager should have picked up a win in his first game out, according to the numbers.

But luck, and quality of finishing, will have to change if the club are going to save themselves from relegation.

There is no use dropping into the Championship while pointing at the numbers to show they don’t deserve to be there.

Ian Wright was scathing in his criticism of Raphinha on Match of the Day following the Brazilian’s failure to convert an excellent chance at the King Power.

Lost in the misery of the 4-0 defeat at home to Tottenham was the fact that United hit the goal-frame multiple times, and Stuart Dallas inexplicably dithered in front of an open goal.

So, from a small sample size, Marsh’s tactical changes look capable of sparking a change in fortunes, but the players are going to have to turn some of those expected goals into actual ones if it is to be effective.

In other Leeds United news, three important prospects have been promoted to the first-team permanently.