Leeds United haven’t had a great season so far, let’s face it. The Whites are in 15th place after winning just two of their eleven games. The only reason they are not in the relegation zone is that they have drawn five and an even worse form from the bottom two. That is a far cry from their ambitions to reach Europe at the start of the season.
Marcelo Bielsa’s extremely fit and hard-working squad finally seems to be losing breath, because the real risk of relegation threatens more than ever. Although there is still much of the season left, fans are concerned about this sharp drop in form and results as the opponents against Leeds have much easier games than they have in the past.
🎙 “We dominated a large part of the game” Marcelo gives his assessment of today’s duel against Leicester pic.twitter.com/oRSTRXFEfV
– Leeds United (@LUFC) November 7, 2021
So what has changed and what needs to be done to revive the site?
WHERE ARE THE GOALS?
Last season Leeds scored 62 goals in 38 games, with Patrick Bamford scoring 17 of them. The absence of the English striker was one of the main reasons for the team’s difficulty in scoring. Bamford has only appeared in five games and has scored one goal and one assist. The last of those games was against Newcastle United in mid-September and there is still some time for Bamford to return.
Even so, he remains the third highest scorer for the Whites, underscoring their inability to score often.
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-Tony Dorigo (@tonydorigo) November 17, 2021
Leeds have only found the net 11 times in 11 games, tied with an xG of 13.40. Compared to 16 goals in the same period 2020-21 from an xG from 6.30 p.m. The difference is big as it means the team cannot fire shots that would result in goals more often.
In addition, they are forced to take shots from less conducive places on the field rather than from the edge of the box or from inside. In fact, they have scored five goals from outside shots, while they have scored 13 outside goals all of last season.
⚪️ Like 40% of Leeds did #PL Goals this season, Raphinha tops his team’s charts for:
– Premier League (@premierleague) November 7, 2021
Raphinha was without a doubt their best player, but most of his strikers can be described as “wonderful” and “awesome”. Neither goal of his has an xG greater than 0.14 while the lowest is a staggering 0.01. It is similar with Rodrigo with two goals (one by penalty), whose non-penalty against Norwich also had an xG of 0.01.
🎯 Unstoppable! pic.twitter.com/DlUhNhFgKr
– Leeds United (@LUFC) November 7, 2021
So it is no wonder that Leeds has not shed light on the scorers’ list and, as everyone in the sport knows, goals win games.
WHERE IS THE DEFENSE?
Leeds have already conceded 18 goals, up from 17 in the 2020/21 season. Although it may not see that much difference, their xGA is 17.5 which means they are should so many admit it. Bielsa’s backline was barely at full strength as Robin Koch, Luke Ayling and Junior Firpo all missed a lot of time due to injuries.
– Leeds United StatZone (@lufcsz) November 9, 2021
This has led to frequent changes in the positions of the remaining staff and the overall formation of the team. Center-back Pascal Struijk has spent a lot of time in left-back and defensive midfield. Left-back Stuart Dallas has been transferred to right-back.
Academy alumni Joe Gelhardt, Charlie Cresswell, Jamie Shackleton and Crysencio Summerville all saw fair minutes, though Shackleton and Gelhardt are also injured and are now on the sidelines. No doubt the return of the more seasoned minds will help further solidify the backline.
– LUFC Youth Academy (@leedsutdacademy) October 31, 2021
Even backline protector Kalvin Phillips has not yet reached the climax of last season after a terrific run at the EM. Ilan Meslier in goal achieved an xG of 16.4 after the shot and can therefore improve his game further. With most of the defenders expected to be back in action in December, Bielsa can hope for a late start for the top ten after the Christmas break.
BIELSA HAS TO IMPROVE FAST
Few teams have as much confidence in their managers as Leeds in Bielsa. With his zen-like methods and unique personal style, he has been a cult figure since his arrival more than three years ago. He has been forced to change his system many times, starting with the 4-1-4-1, then the 3-3-3-1, which was previously not seen under the manager.
Leeds snorted and puffed even against teams that played terribly. Bielsa’s players are consistently the toughest workers in the games, but it looks like that won’t be enough to get results this time around.
– Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) November 17, 2021
Bielsa seems to run out of ideas quickly and has to rely more and more on individual highlights. This is not Bielsa’s way and the sooner he finds alternatives, the better for Leeds.