Leeds United's Brenden Aaronson handed Premier League consolation prize after debut goal denial
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Jesse Marsch insisted following his side’s Premier League survival in May that the squad had yet to get to grips with the intimate details of his style of play.
Over the course of a six-week pre-season schedule, Marsch’s ideas and principles have become increasingly ingrained within the first-team squad, made apparent by their exploits on the first weekend of the new season.
While one Premier League matchday is hardly a worthwhile sample size for making sweeping statements over Leeds’ acclimation to Marsch’s methods, it just provide a helpful indicator as to the way in which United will play this season.
After one round of fixtures in which all 20 teams have played, no team made more successful pressures than Leeds United.
On 64 occasions Leeds recovered possession from Wolverhampton Wanderers within five seconds of applying pressure, according to data provider Statsbomb and statistics website FBRef.com.
A ‘successful pressure’ is defined as: a team gaining possession of the ball within five seconds of applying pressure.
Meanwhile, a ‘pressure’ is commonly known as an attempt to regain the ball from the opposition by closing down the ball-carrier or player receiving a pass.
Throughout his coaching career, Marsch’s teams have been renowned for their application of the press.
Heavily influenced by the German concept ‘gegenpressing’, Marsch asks his players to hunt in packs to retrieve the ball, with multiple men closing down the opponent in possession so as to cut off any passing lanes, forcing a turnover.
"Key to my way of playing is the idea of pressing to score goals,” Marsch told The Coaches’ Voice. “Not thinking about possession when you win the ball, but thinking about how to get the ball forward and score as quickly as possible.
“I use an acronym – S.A.R.D. – to try and break my ideas down for the players.”
S – Sprinting
A – Alle gemeinsam, translated as ‘all together’
R – Reingehen, translated as ‘going in’
D – Dazukommen, the second wave of the press
It is perhaps little surprise, then, that no player in the opening round of Premier League fixtures attempted more pressures than Leeds United’s Brenden Aaronson – a former student of Marsch’s at FC Red Bull Salzburg.
The American international was robbed of a dream debut by the Goal Accreditation Panel after United’s winner was begrudgingly, but correctly, attributed to Wolves’ Rayan Ait-Nouri as an own goal.
However, Aaronson leading the pressing charts after his first Premier League appearance is a marker to the rest of the league that the buzzing, pest-like attacking midfielder will be ceaseless in his attempts to regain the ball for his side.
The 21-year-old attempted 31 pressures in matchweek one, succeeding in gaining the ball 12 times.
Only Everton’s Abdoulaye Doucoure and Arsenal’s Thomas Partey – with 13 and 14, respectively – topped Aaronson’s tally for successful pressures.
The USMNT man arrived at Elland Road with a reputation for being active out of possession, finding himself among the top 1% of pressers in his position during last season’s UEFA Champions League.
Whether Aaronson can maintain this level of exertion throughout an entire campaign remains to be seen, but effort levels on his Leeds debut are reason for encouragement, particularly when married with Marsch’s preferred style.