Leeds Live’s Beren Cross has delivered his take on Leeds United’s running stats being lower than they were last season in the Premier League.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side have endured a difficult start to the new campaign, remaining winless in their opening six games and currently lying in the bottom three with just three points collected.
It was recently revealed by Leeds Live’s Joe Donnohue that having outrun their opposition by 24.9 kilometres in the opening five games of last season, that figure has dropped significantly to just 5.7 this time around.
And in response, Cross said: “It’s a great observation raised by one of my colleagues at LeedsLive, Joe Donnohue. It’s one of those stats which is hard to see with the naked eye when you’re watching a game, but does make for an interesting subplot to why this season has started badly.
“I don’t believe it’s the sole explanation behind the points dropped, but it’s interesting to note. I don’t think there’s a lot to be gained from drilling into it too far, especially when Leeds are still outrunning their opponents, just by a smaller margin.”
While Leeds still may be outrunning their opposition in the Premier League this season, the fact it has dropped off so massively compared to this time last year, is a cause for concern for both Bielsa and the club’s fans.
It has been one of the features and hallmarks of the Whites over the years under their Argentine coach that they will work harder than everyone, and leave every ounce of sweat on the pitch trying to chase everything and make the game run at 90 miles an hour.
Considering it’s not in Bielsa’s style to tweak his tactics or philosophy, explanations behind why those numbers are where they are becomes very intriguing.
Have the rest of the Premier League begun to embrace the kind of game Leeds want to play? Has the lack of confidence that inevitably comes from not winning matches begun to have an effect?
The injuries and illnesses that the Whites have faced in these opening few weeks have no doubt also had a major impact on Bielsa’s side, with someone like Jack Harrison’s absence for example in the last couple of weeks, so notable because of the kind of hard running that he puts on the left-hand side – as per The Athletic, the Englishman impressively ranked in the 96th and 98th percentile of Premier League players for sprints per 90, and high intensity runs last season.
With players like Harrison out, and the rest of the top-flight recognising the need to try and match Leeds’ intensity, it’s perhaps little surprise that the running stats have dipped. But in any case, it’s still the kind of drop-off that will both intrigue and perhaps even worry fans.