This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
During pre-season, one of Leeds’ main concerns was with their defence.
Pontus Jansson had walked out of the door for Brentford while they shipped four goals against Manchester United in Australia too.
It wasn’t the ideal start to life without the Swedish central defender but the impressive Ben White has come in and looked a class above in the Championship, winning the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month award for August.
Marcelo Bielsa has disclosed his ability to play in a holding role in midfield but despite his displays so far, there is still one area where he’s failed to fully help the Whites.
Last term Bielsa said that defending set-pieces was an issue so losing the aerial threat of Jansson was unlikely to help. That has indeed been the case this term too as the Argentine admitted: “We speculate, but it’s true set-pieces are difficult for us.”
The former Leeds centre-back won a colossal 4.9 aerial duels last term which would have played some hand in helping to get rid of the danger in those sorts of situations.
However, when it’s come to defending in 2019/20, there are still plenty off issues in this regard.
Leeds have only conceded three goals but two of them have come from set-pieces. If it wasn’t for Kiko Casilla that would have gone up to three or potentially even higher at the weekend.
The presence of Aapo Halme and Mads Andersen caused Bielsa’s men plenty of difficulties last Sunday as the pair had four efforts between them from dead balls into the area.
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With White in defence, they conceded a sloppy goal against Nottingham Forest from a corner while they failed to clear a set-piece sufficiently versus Swansea which led to Wayne Routledge’s late strike.
The Brighton loanee has won 2.1 tackles and made 3.9 interceptions per game according to WhoScored but when it comes to battles in the box, he and the rest of the defence have looked up against it on a regular basis.
Had it not been for corners, Leeds would have only conceded once this season so there is clearly an issue there. It’s not a case of White’s aerial presence either because he’s won 3.3 duels in those scenarios each outing.
It’s difficult to slate the 21-year-old’s performance but there is still a naivety to Leeds’ defence that can be exploited from dead balls. They must be wary of this as the season plays out.