Euro 2020 Special

Tactical Analysis of Leeds United vs Crystal Palace

Two Englishmen in Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford ensured that Leeds United vs Crystal Palace ended in a comfortable 2-0 win for the Whites. With this win, Leeds have moved back in the top half of the Premier League table for the first time since November 2020.

Leeds were rapid off the blocks and hurt the Eagles early in the third minute courtesy a deflected shot by Harrison. Then, in the 52nd minute, Bamford comfortably slotted home the second goal of the night and completed 100 career goals for himself. Overall it was a pretty one-sided affair and Leeds didn’t look flustered throughout the course of the match.

Here’s our dissection of Leeds United vs Crystal Palace from the 2020-21 Premier League.



Leeds came into this match on the back of a disappointing result against Everton at home. Their previous two home matches ended in defeats and it was imperative that they got back to winning ways at Elland Road. On the contrary, Crystal Palace came into this game with back-to-back wins in the Premier League against Newcastle and Wolves.

The last time these two teams clashed at Selhurst Park earlier in the season, Leeds found it difficult to break a resolute Palace defence and were hurt on the counter-attack on numerous occasions. In that match, Palace were able to cope up with the intensity of Leeds United and came out as eventual 4-1 winners.



Marcelo Bielsa very rarely changes his tried and tested system. In this match as well, Leeds lined up as 4-1-4-1 and it worked out pretty well for the Whites.

Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Illan Meslier (GK); Luke Ayling, Pascal Struijk, Liam Cooper (C), Ezgjan Alioski; Kalvin Phillips; Raphinha, Stuart Dallas, Mateusz Klick, Jack Harrison; Patrick Bamford

Roy Hodgson went for a traditional 4-4-2 as his team lined up without their talisman Wilfried Zaha who was ruled out of the game with an injury problem.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Vicente Guatia (GK); Nathaniel Clyne, Scott Dann (C), Gary Cahill, Tyrick Mitchell; Eberechi Eze, Luka Milivojevic, Jairo Riedewald, Patrick van Aanholt; Jordan Ayew, Jean-Philippe Mateta



Whenever Leeds had the ball, the emphasis was to create overloads on one side of the pitch and move forward with pace and precise one-touch passing. As the match went on, Crystal Palace had allotted Jordan Ayew, one of their two strikers to stop the ball being passed to Kalvin Phillips in the middle of the park by the centre-backs. To lose the man, Kalvin dropped into defence and made it more like a three-man defence in build-up alongside the two centre backs. Whenever this movement happened, Stuart Dallas stepped into the deepest midfield position as the traditional number six on the pitch and was looking to dictate play by playing deeper balls towards both the wingers.



It is no surprise that Leeds defended man-to-man basis in this match as well and Crystal Palace obviously were aware of this tactic coming into the game. To break this man-to-man defence, the best way is to play one-touch quick football in the opposition half and get runners to either overlap or interchange their positions to create havoc in the defensive system of the opposition. Palace tried doing this to some extent and did create a few chances by the end but it wasn’t good enough.

The first half performance was below par for Crystal Palace and they did improve in the second half. Set-pieces should have been a tactic where Palace could have exploited the fragilities in Leeds’ defence but they failed to do so in the game.



Overall, Marcelo Bielsa would be delighted with the way his team played at the end. They could have scored more goals as well in this game but the clean sheet would make the Argentine coach the happiest. It was Leeds’ first clean sheet of the calendar year and it is something that they will look to build on in the coming few matches.




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