This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
For Stuart Dallas this week has been huge for him.
The Northern Irishman has been one of the Whites’ best players in 2019/20 and averages a match rating of 7.09 via WhoScored.
He has stepped in brilliantly for Luke Ayling at right-back, showing his dynamic versatility after appearing at left-back last season too.
However, after putting pen to paper on renewed terms at Elland Road, he now needs to focus on the battle he could face on Sunday.
The 28-year-old is set to come up against Mamadou Thiam on the left-hand side against Barnsley this weekend.
The Reds have struggled for goals and have only found the net four times. Thiam is yet to contribute to a goal and has started on three occasions but looked in good form against Wigan prior to the international break.
He managed two dribbles in Barnsley’s 0-0 draw with the Latics, winning two aerial duels and two tackles in the process as well, according to WhoScored.
There is a clear physical nature about him and that could prove the difference unless Dallas is at the top of his game.
The Northern Ireland international came up against Julian Brandt last Monday when his country played Germany and he nullified him well as the winger failed to produce an accurate cross. Thiam will present an altogether different test though.
Both players make a high number of tackles per match with a gap of just 0.6 between the pair according to WhoScored.
In terms of creativity, the Leeds man appears better, particularly this season but that doesn’t mean this won’t be a contest.
Dallas likes to get forward, emphasised by his goal against Stoke but considering Thiam is adept defensively, he could have a big say by doubling up on him with the full-back when he does burst into the final third.
The right-back averages 2.5 long balls per game but if he has two men on him, including the aforementioned Barnsley man, it might cut out that supply significantly.