Who knew playing a formation with some width would work, eh? For some time now we’ve not been creating enough. The 4-1-2-1-2 diamond just hasn’t allowed us to find gaps in the opposition, it’s all been too narrow, too compressed in the middle of the park.
However, that all changed on Sunday. You can say Birmingham aren’t the strongest of opponents, but you can only beat what’s put in front of you. We did that to devestating effect, putting 4 – I repeat, 4 – into the Brum net. That’s the first time we’ve scored 4 in a game since November 2011, a whole 771 days between the two matches.
Brian McDermott surprised almost everyone inside Elland Road, opting to play a 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation. This was met with a fairly positive response from the fans, identifying the two wing-back’s, Sam Byram and Stephen Warnock, as our main outlets out wide whilst still managing to fulfil their defensive duties very well, helping us secure our third clean sheet of the season. 49% of Leeds’ attacks were played down Byram’s right wing, with 24% played down our left hand side.
The formation also seemed to suit our central defenders, and we looked far more solid when Birmingham were attacking. Personally, I think that’s simply because there’s one more defender sitting alongside them. If one of them was to make a mistake, try and press the ball away from an opposing attacker etc, then there’s still two others behind them who can rectify it.
The three central midfielders were brilliant. Luke Murphy and Alex Mowatt were both excellent – completing 36 and 45 passes respectively – in the middle of the park, controlling the game from start to finish. Mowatt is like a breath of fresh air, always wanting the ball, creating chances. It’s always nice to see someone come through the youth and he’s definitely the pick of the bunch so far, this season. Rodolph Austin was given the job as the more advanced midfielder, and boy did he perform. His engine is ridiculous, he’s an absolute monster. He was definitely my man of the match, and he grabbed a goal to seal off an excellent performance.
In the attack we saw a partnership of Matt Smith and Ross McCormack. It worked to absolute perfection. Smith is a giant, and his ability in the air showed as he won 14 duels against an awful-looking Brum defence who were all over the place. This included a stunning header to secure a fourth Leeds goal, racing onto Alex Mowatt’s pinpoint cross and powering it accross the goalkeeper. Ross
played a vital part in the game, scoring one – although he could’ve had four or five – and assisting another.
Overall, we were excellent. That’s the first time in ages where I’ve come away from a game thinking ‘we destroyed them’.
I’m hoping the 3-5-2 continues against Huddersfield. It just seems to suit the players so well. It’s also a formation they (Huddersfield) themselves have been trying to adapt to. It will be interesting to see how it suits us using it away from home, whether we adopt the same attacking intent as we had on Sunday or whether we sit deeper and hit teams on the counter.
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