The tactical battle facing Leeds United as Marcelo Bielsa prepares for resurgent Chelsea
In the latest of a series for the Yorkshire Evening Post, Jon Mackenzie - from All Stats Aren't We - takes a deeper look at Leeds United's next opponents - Chelsea.
In many respects, the Frank Lampard sacking has taken some of the sting out of Leeds’ fixture with Chelsea tomorrow lunchtime.
Replaced by the German, Thomas Tuchel, this version of Chelsea look quite different to the Lampard iteration.
Moving into a 3-4-3 structure, Chelsea are now very defensively solid and not quite as frenetic in attack as they were under Lampard.
But the result is much more ominous. In the 10 games since he arrived, Chelsea haven’t lost and have only dropped points in two fixtures.
Here are three aspects of Tuchel’s system to look out for tomorrow afternoon:
The dreaded 3-4-3
Leeds have had mixed success against the 3-4-3 formation this season.
Where Wolves didn’t create a huge amount of chances in a 3-4-3, neither did they concede a huge amount of chances, especially when they had a lead to sit back on.
There was the late success at Leicester which showed that Leeds can produce results against the system but the combination of a back three and a structure which lends itself to pressing in wide areas means that Leeds can struggle against the 3-4-3.
Tuchel has reinvented Chelsea in a manner eerily similar to one of his predecessors: Antonio Conte. They sit two central midfielders in front of a back three which can become a back five and have exciting attacking players who they can release quickly.
It’ll be a tough test for Leeds tomorrow.
Defence is the best form of attack
Since Thomas Tuchel came in, Chelsea’s defence has been one of the tightest in the division.
Across the nine Premier League matches during his tenure, Chelsea have conceded only 0.4 expected goals against - that means they are expected to concede fewer than one goal every two games!
Leeds fans will be worried about Chelsea’s attack—and with good reason—but it’s their defence who are the really scary prospect.
When it comes to Leeds’ man-marking system, one of the most dangerous things an opposition can do is pull defenders around to create space for their team-mate to attack.
Chelsea will likely play with two narrow attacking midfielders and an out-and-out striker on Saturday with Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech all options for those slots.
With Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling tasked with keeping these “floating 10s” under wraps, it’ll be a tricky afternoon for the Leeds defence.