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Tactics Preview: Versatile Leeds United In Excellent Form

It will be another tough test for Reading this evening.

Leeds United v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Leeds United sit in second place in the Championship table with 10 wins to their name already this season. With only 10 goals conceded, United have the best defence in the league and in Marcelo Bielsa, one of the best managers too. Having not lost in over two months, four wins and two draws in their last six games have enabled Leeds to be able to sit in the automatic promotion places ahead of Tuesday night’s game.

That early October defeat at Millwall has been the only times this season that Leeds have conceded more than one goal in a game, so the Royals will need to keep it tight at the back in order to have a chance of getting anything from the game. Leeds are not a side who thrash teams, but consistently averaging around at least 60% possession and firing off shot after shot has singled them out as a team who can camp in the opposition’s half and dominate the game.

Leeds are able to play in a variety of different formations, lining up in a 3-4-3, 3-3-3-1 and 4-1-4-1 in their last four games alone. With on loan Brighton defender Ben White a fixture in central defence alongside either right back Gaetano Berardi or Liam Cooper (or right-back Luke Ayling when in a three), Leeds have seamlessly transitioned between their different systems this season. This versatility is a huge asset to United, with winger Stuart Dallas usually playing at full-back or wing-back. The two full/wing-backs also have a position quite high up the pitch, looking to overload the opposition’s full backs, along with widemen Helder Costa and Jack Harrison, or even playmaker Pablo Hernandez. Hernandez is more prone to dropping into the middle with Harrison and Costa more natural wide players, and his movement inside can often confuse opposition defenders.

In midfield, Kalvin Phillips drops in between the centre-backs to pick up the ball and spray it around the pitch, often looking to pick out an attacking full-back or a midfield runner. Leeds’s midfield men like to use the space created by the striker’s movement off the ball, usually one of Patrick Bamford or Eddie Nketiah.

Leeds enjoy a high press from the front in order to win the ball back quickly, so the Royals will need to take a no nonsense approach at the back when not trying to beat the intense press. With Sam Baldock potentially out injured, Lucas Boye may provide a wise option in Reading’s own frontline with the Royals hopefully looking to continue their own high energy approach to games.