After the opening five games, the Whites looked unstoppable, but a lack of consistency in form has seen them slip.
With the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa in summer, a new style of football was embraced at Elland Road. Pre-season was an indicator of how far the squad had come. The final game specifically, against Las Palmas, showed exactly the kind of pressing play the Argentine has revolutionised.
Early wins against Stoke, Derby and Rotherham saw Leeds sit in the automatic promotion places and become Sky Bet’s favourites for promotion. However, a recent dip in form could be a sign that teams are starting to figure out how to counter Bielsa’s style.
The past 10 games have been typical Leeds ups and downs, seeing the Whites drop valuable points against sides like Nottingham Forest and Blackburn. These are the games which all fans would’ve wanted to see three points.
Leeds are now proving to be one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. This can be seen in their last two games, where in a dominant performance against Wigan, every player worked to their max capacity. As a team this was probably the best performance of the season, a great showingof passion, with the most memorable moment being a Wigan counter attack, which started as a one on one with Josh Windass and Pontus Jansson, but within five seconds the Latics’ attacker was swarmed by seven Leeds shirts.
One week later and the willingness to fight for the team didn’t seem apparent as the Yorkshire side rolled over against an equally inconsistent West Brom. For a few of the goals, the defence went to sleep and looked as if they didn’t want to be on the pitch. From the outset the home side had Bielsa figured out.
West Brom have by far been the most successful side that have countered the Bielsa press. From the outset they had men pushing up to every player who had the ball. Many other teams have tried a similar thing to this throughout the season, but haven’t executed it in such an emphatic fashion.
The player press gives Leeds minimal time on the ball, which leads to them giving the ball away in positions where the opposition have a good chance for a counter attack.
It is evident that Leeds are lacking a touch of class in the final third. Links with Alaves winger Ibai Gomez in January could be a big story in the Championship. Previously working under the ‘El Loco’ at Bilbao, Leeds tried signing him in summer but he was not ready to leave Spain.
With Ezgjon Alioski underperforming in the final third this season, Gomez would freshen up the Leeds attack and add another dimension to the attacking play rather than relying on Hernandez or Saiz to work some magic.
Picture Credit: Leeds United