Three Things to Expect from Leeds as they Visit Tottenham

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JANUARY 27: Scott Parker of Spurs and Michael Brown of Leeds compete for the ballduring the FA Cup with Budweiser Fourth Round match between Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur at Elland Road on January 27, 2013 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
LEEDS, ENGLAND - JANUARY 27: Scott Parker of Spurs and Michael Brown of Leeds compete for the ballduring the FA Cup with Budweiser Fourth Round match between Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur at Elland Road on January 27, 2013 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images) /

Several teams in the Premier League can leave you guessing and while Leeds may change formation, Tottenham should know what to expect on Saturday.

Tottenham Hotspur host Leeds United in Premier League action for the first time in nearly 20 years and it should be an affair worth the wait. Leeds United play an exciting brand of open and attacking football that often leads to lots of goals and enjoyment for fans. So, what can we expect and what should we look for as Leeds come to N17?

Expect Some Goals

Leeds United have been mostly a goal feast for fans this season. Their first match of the year was against Liverpool and there were some 28 shots and 7 goals as Leeds fell valiantly in defeat 4-3 at the defending Champions. That match has set some expectations for Leeds, that they have mostly delivered on, particularly on the road for scoring goals.

On the season, the 30 goals in 16 games is 4th most in the Premier League at 1.875 per match, slightly better than Spurs at 1.73 per match on 26 goals from 15 games. This output is higher for Leeds on the road, where the club are a full half goal better at 2.125 per match than they are at home where they ‘only’ average 1.625 goals per contest.

If you are expecting Leeds to be the team that goes on the road and sits back, hoping for a point, this is the wrong club. With Leeds it is all or nothing as they have 4 wins against 4 defeats on the road and no draws. With 17 goals for and an equal 17 against on the road, this should be a match-up that provides some real excitement.

Better Defensively than you Think

With Leeds it truly is an all or nothing proposition, as the club is much better defensively than you might think. While Leeds has given up 30 goals on the season and 17 on the road, they also have six clean sheets on the season – one more than Tottenham – with four of those coming in their four road wins.

Leeds United have managed to shutout, Sheffield United, Aston Villa, Everton, and West Brom, winning by a combined score of 10 to nothing. Of course, this means Leeds is averaging slightly more than 4 goals against in the losses, shutting out four teams on the road is no small feat. Everton has as many goals as Tottenham and Villa have more goals in fewer games.

The common denominator in these matches was Leeds holding the advantage in possession and accumulating a large shooting advantage. In the 3-goal win over Villa, Leeds have more than double the Villains attempts at 27 to 12. While not as steep an advantage, Leeds outshot Everton 23 to 15 and with eight saves from keeper Illan Meslier United held on 1-0.

Most recently against West Brom, Leeds were a more measured and controlled side only taking 14 shots to West Brom’s 4, but scoring on 5 of them, as they trounced Brom at The Hawthorns holding 76% of the possession. These should be the kind of things that have José Mourinho and his staff worried as the approach Spurs have taken of late plays directly into the hands of Leeds who want the ball.

In all the losses, despite having the most possession – including against Liverpool 51/49 – Leeds were outshot. If Leeds win the battle of attempts on target that bodes well for them both offensively and defensively. Spurs must fight for the ball and work to try and take the game to Leeds, who are susceptible defensively in an open match, but are extremely comfortable when the opponent sits back. We know Spurs have been giving up too many shoots and too much possession and this is what Leeds want.

Watch for Phillips, Klich, and Bamford

Leeds United have a good team overall that can attack from a lot of places. The formation is most likely to a 4-1-4-1, but they have used a 4-2-3-1 and even a 4-3-3 at times this season. However, what you will find almost every time is a connection up the middle from defensive to offense through Kalvin Phillips, Mateusz Klich, and Patrick Bamford.

Phillips is for United what Pierre Højbjerg is for Tottenham, in that he is the base of the defense through the midfield regardless of anything else. Whether there are two deep players or more likely just Phillips, the English midfielder is the rock upon which the Leeds team is built. Polish midfielder Klich is then the fulcrum that connects Phillips in defense and Bamford in attack.

Klich has been excellent offensively in the middle of the park for Leeds with three goals and a team leading five assists across all competitions. Klich is also a big part of the defense with 1.3 tackles per match, which often turn into offense and help contribute to his nearly 2 key passes per match. Throw in Jack Harrison, who is outstanding on both ends and plays on both wings’ ala Heung-Min Son and Leeds have several two-way players who can impact the match in the midfield.

Patrick Bamford has been the tip of the spear for Leeds, with a club leading 10 goals Bamford has been excellent for the team. Getting more than 3.5 shots per match Bamford, like Harry Kane, gets his chances. And while Bamford is flagged for offside nearly 1 time per match, that constant threat on the back shoulder of the defender makes for a difficult match-up.

Bottom Line for Tottenham

Ultimately what happens Saturday afternoon at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is going to be more up to Spurs than it is up to Leeds. We all know what Leeds is going to do, they are going to attack. They are going to hit through balls, they are going to tackle and press, and shoot and try to outscore you. The question is what Tottenham Hotspur is going to do.

Will Tottenham Hotspur sit back and try to absorb and play into Leeds hands or will Spurs come our fighting and try to take the game as much to United as Leeds does to them? If Tottenham come out swinging and looking to score on more than just the counter, Leeds can be had. If Spurs let Leeds get comfortable and sit back for too long, they could be road shutout victim number 5. It is up to Tottenham to decide who they want to be the aggressor or the victim.

light. Related Story. Why Spurs Should Consider 4-3-3