MOT Tactics: Lack of discipline from one man cost Leeds v B'ham, rarely-seen 28y/o is the answer
This article is part of a regular series from Leeds United Twitter account All Stats Aren’t We – the team also host a brilliant podcast that goes in-depth into the tactics of Marcelo Bielsa and a deeper look at the underlying stats
Now that the dust has settled, here’s an attempt to make some sense of the 5-4 win v Birmingham. Leeds obviously took the three points and fought for the win having been pegged back many times, showing a strong mentality, which is something many of us question. That’s the main plus point.
However, there were lots of things wrong. Looking at this average position map, we can see that Alioski was more advanced than Harrison. In a game Leeds were struggling to defend their left, they could have done with a little more discipline from their left-back.
The fourth Birmingham goal came with Alioski attacking and losing the ball in the 91st minute. Birmingham broke up the other end and scored. A little more of a conservative approach at this point in the game might have been needed.
Also, note the chasm between the left side and the midfield. Leeds often use this as a tactic – overload the right to isolate the left and create 1v1 opportunities. This didn’t seem to be something Leeds were trying yesterday though and it just looked like a disjointed midfield.
This is backed up by this passing map, which shows worrying lack of passing in central attacking midfield areas.
Leeds won the possession battle on the day, but with a share that’s 10% lower than their average possession value. They didn’t seem comfortable to hold the ball in a way they normally would and seemed to want to go long far more often than to keep it in midfield.
They may have been looking to go long to use the pace of the front 3, which did cause problems for Birmingham, but with the game getting away from Leeds, there was a worrying naïveté to not change this approach.
Subsequently, Leeds were outshot by Birmingham and conceded a season-high three big chances and gave away the most shots in the box since Barnsley took 11.
As many will have noticed – Leeds conceded only 10 goals in the first 21 games of the season. They have conceded the same amount in the last 4. We have spoken a lot on this account about the importance of Leeds controlling games this season and how that has kept opponents at bay.
In the last few games Leeds have not managed that in the way they have done for the previous 21 games. Add that to Kiko Casilla looking worryingly error prone again and you have problems.
Leeds’ injury crisis in midfield is surely one of the key reasons for this. Stuart Dallas is having a fantastic season and is a willing runner, but he isn’t a central midfielder.
28-year-old Forshaw can’t come back quick enough, but it is certainly an issue that he, Shackleton, Hernandez and Roberts all look unable to put together a run of games without injury. Will Leeds look for another who can play there this month?
In other Leeds United news: ‘Who Leeds need to go up’ – Exclusive: Paul Robinson claims Orta must sign one player this Jan