After returning to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years, Leeds United enjoyed a superb season under Marcelo Bielsa, finishing 9th in the table. However, the 2021-22 season has started rather slowly as Leeds United only have six points from their seven games and are 15th in the table. They secured their first win recently in a 1-0 win over Watford over the weekend.
Leeds have scored seven goals so far in the season, but have conceded a total of 14 goals which is the second-highest in the league after the 16 goals that Newcastle United and Norwich have conceded. After seven Premier League games last season, Leeds United had scored 13 times, including three against Liverpool and also secured a point against Manchester City. This season saw Leeds lose 1-5 to Manchester United on the opening day of the league and also lost to Liverpool by three goals to nil.
Despite conceding a high number of goals, the stats indicate Leeds have been successful with most of the defensive actions they have completed. As seen in the above visual, Leeds have the second-highest number of successful defensive duels in the league and also have averaged the second most number of successful defensive duels per 90 minutes.
Leeds United Defensive Intensity for season 2021-22
Leeds United Defensive Intensity for season 2020-21
The above visuals show us the defensive intensity for the whole of last season and for the seven matches they have played so far. From the visuals, we can see, that Leeds have had a similar defensive intensity which they had last season as well. They have been able to recover possession of the ball from their opponents with the tackles they have attempted and do not let the opposition pass the ball around with ease.
All the stats show that Leeds have been able to perform their defensive actions well, but in reality the main problem for Leeds has been their poor defensive organisation at the back. Most of the goals that Leeds have conceded have been a result of the mistakes they have made. They have been the victims of their own mistakes as most of the time they have made the wrong pass which led to the opposition taking advantage of their defensive instability and have scored goals in such a manner. Leeds have been poor at man-marking as well as zonal defending, and have been an easy defensive unit to break down with some smart final balls and swift team moves. Junior Firpo has struggled to convince at the start of his time at Leeds, although Diego Llorente’s return from injury should help them strengthen their defence and provide a better partnership alongside Liam Cooper.
Another pain point for Leeds has been the lack of creativity from their forwards as well as midfielders. Leeds had a different style of play last season which was quick transitional attacking style, but they have yet to replicate that type of football in this season. Leeds have been able to score more than one goal in a match only on one occasion which was in their match against Everton. The lack of creativity in their midfield has been noticeable and as a result, they have struggled to create goalscoring chances.
Raphinha has been their most creative player so far and has scored three goals in the league. But his form has not been up to the mark so far this season. He has been often dispossessed by the opposition defenders while trying to cut in from the right-wing. As a result of his poor form, Leeds’s overall performance has suffered significantly.
Raphinha Attacking Stats for 2020-21
Raphinha Attacking Stats for 2021-22
The above visuals show the attacking stats for Raphinha for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 Premier League seasons. These visuals indicate that Raphinha has been able to put up good numbers so far this season. The 2020-21 visual is for the whole of the season and the averages per 90 are for more matches which indicate he was able to maintain his form. But when we consider the 2021-22 numbers, which has only been for the first seven games and the percentile has been lower than the previous season. With the arrival of Dan James, one potential solution to their lack of creativity could be playing Raphinha in a free role behind Patrick Bamford, with Daniel James and Jack Harrison on either flank.
Leeds put up a much better performance against Watford and completely dominated the game. They played more of the game that they have played under Bielsa for the last couple of years and will be much better in the coming games with the return of Patrick Bamford from injury. Leeds will be facing two teams who are below them on the Premier League table in their next three games and will look to put up a similar performance against them.