Three areas Leeds United and Marcelo Bielsa must concentrate on to beat Carlo Ancelotti's Everton

In the latest of a new series for the Yorkshire Evening Post, Jon Mackenzie takes a deeper look at Leeds United's next opponents - Everton.
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Jon runs All Stats Aren't We, a Leeds United media channel that focuses on the tactical and statistical aspects of the game.

Everton were the team who came out of the blocks quickest this season.

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With manager Carlo Ancelotti bringing in exciting signings in James Rodriguez and Allan and shifting the structure from a 4-4-2 to a more flamboyant 4-3-3, the Merseyside club looked like they could challenge for a European spot this season if not even a Champions League spot.

Everton celebrate at Fulham last weekend. (Getty)Everton celebrate at Fulham last weekend. (Getty)
Everton celebrate at Fulham last weekend. (Getty)

After a bit of a wobble, though, Ancelotti’s side are looking a little more beatable going into the weekend and, fortunately for Leeds, there are some aspects to the way Everton play that should be open to exploitation by Marcelo Bielsa.

Here are three aspects of Ancelotti’s system to look out for tomorrow evening at Goodison Park:

Which formation?

This season, Carlo Ancelotti has tended to set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation which gets the most out of an exciting front line of Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and James Rodriguez.

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However, last weekend in their match against Fulham, Ancelotti went with a 3-4-3 formation with Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan in midfield and Alex Iwobi as a right wing-back.

The big question this weekend will be: will Ancelotti stick with this approach? We know that the 3-4-3 structure does allow for pressing in wide areas that cause Leeds problems.

But Ancelotti won’t have been happy with how they lost control of the game against Fulham in the second half.

Plundering a mid-block

If you categorise defensive phases into broad types, you’ll end up with three: a high press, a mid-block and a low. Of course, all teams (who don’t use a man-marking system) will employ combinations of these three.

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But of the three, the one that Leeds have seen the most success against is the mid-block. For instance, Aston Villa played in a mid-block in the 3-0 defeat by Leeds.Everton also play a largely mid-block system and so expect to see Leeds enjoying the spaces it leaves open at the back that they can exploit.

Everton’s game changers

Where Everton do have an edge is in their forward line.

This season, Ancelotti has got Dominic Calvert-Lewin arrowed in on the opposition penalty area, scoring 10 from 17 shots on target. On either side of the England number 9, Richarlison and James offer two different approaches.

Richarlison will go direct and look to drive at Leeds’ defenders where James will look to drop into space in midfield and fashion chances for his team-mates.

If Leeds can keep these three quiet, they’ll be well on the way to getting something from the game.