Leeds United will host Swansea City at Elland Road today in a top of the table clash in the Championship. The Whites are coming on the back of a narrow defeat in the shootout against Stoke City whereas Swansea are yet to be beaten in any competitions this season.
Former England u-17 World Cup-winning manager Steve Cooper has brought in a lot of positivity ever since his arrival at Liberty Stadium and the brand of football which they have played so far has been impressive. The Swans are currently the highest-scoring team in the Championship, and we can expect a fascinating encounter between two good football-playing sides.
Here is what Bielsa needs to do to get a positive result against the Swans.
Winning the midfield battle
Both the managers are known to favour possession-based football and who comes out on top in this game could very well depend on which side will win the midfield battle. Cooper’s focus is not solely on having the possession but playing progressive football.
Cooper generally deploys a 4-2-3-1 formation and the wide players in the attacking third will often touch the byline as they look to stretch the pitch and the fullbacks make runs inside them. Bielsa will need to make sure that the Swans don’t create too many overloads on one side of the pitch. Having five players in the middle will also mean that there could be occasions when the Whites might be outnumbered. The Swans don’t dwell on the ball much and instead look to move it forward quickly.
Stopping Borja Baston
Baston is a very Bielsa kind of forward as he likes to press from the top and he usually works very hard up the pitch. He is also impressive with his little flick-ons and link-up play. Liam Cooper and Ben White are likely going to face their biggest test of the season. Baston is currently the top scorer in the Championship as he has already bagged five goals and one assist. Keeping him in check will be crucial.
Kalvin Phillips will need to be at his best
The Swans are often progressive with their passing and Phillips will need to be at his best with his reading of the game and intercepting abilities. On the ball too, he will have a significant role to play. The Swans try to create too many overloads on one side of the pitch, and that drags the opposition players. Phillips, with his long diagonals and impressive passing skills, can switch up play quickly, and that is where Swansea could look susceptible.
Along with all this, Bielsa will hope that his side can be clinical in front of goal and they avoid giving away possession in dangerous areas of the pitch.