Talking Tactics

Versatile Dallas key to Leeds' fluidity against Everton

By Adrian Clarke 1 Feb 2021
Talking Tactics Stuart Dallas

Adrian Clarke explains why Marcelo Bielsa's utility man has played the most minutes this season

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points in Matchweek 22.

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Leeds United’s Stuart Dallas has become invaluable to Marcelo Bielsa thanks to his incredible versatility.

The 29-year-old has performed with distinction at left-back, right-back and in central midfield this season, often switching roles on a match-by-match basis to suit his head coach's tactics.

Dallas's various roles
2020/21 Starts Wins
Central midfield 7 4
Right-back 7 3
Left-back 6 2

Dallas has arguably shone brightest as part of a three-man central midfield, with Leeds collecting 13 points from a possible 21 when he has occupied that position.

It is where he has started in the last two matches, and he clinically scored his fourth goal of the campaign in Sunday's 3-1 victory at Leicester City.

He also regained possession in the left-back area on numerous occasions, and launched Leeds' third goal on the counter-attack from that position.

Utility players can often struggle to earn regular starts, especially when the squad is fully fit, but Bielsa always finds a place for Dallas.

Dependable Dallas

The Northern Ireland international has started every Premier League match and played more minutes than anyone else at the club.

One of the main reasons Bielsa likes using Dallas in his midfield is his ability and willingness to provide cover for team-mates in multiple areas.

Since the shape of his side is always fluid, it is reassuring for the Argentinian to knows that Dallas is comfortable anywhere on the pitch.

Throughout the match at Leicester, Dallas allowed full-back Ezgian Alioski to play in a more advanced position without leaving the team exposed.

PL rank for work-rate 2020/21
Distance covered/90 (km) Sprints/90
1 LEE 113.9 1 LEE 167.5
2 SHU 112.9 2 CHE 140.9
3 BHA 111.3 3 SOU 139.4
9 EVE 109.3 16 EVE 113.9

Leeds are the fittest side in the Premier League and will test Everton physically on Wednesday.

They play at a high intensity and regularly outwork their opponents, so Carlo Ancelotti will need an energetic and committed performance from his players.

Dallas is key to Leeds' relentless approach. Busy and full of running, he makes the second-highest number of sprints per 90 minutes of any Leeds player, behind summer signing Raphinha.

Another thriller?

The last meeting between these sides in late November was an end-to-end contest which was not reflected in the scoreline.

Leeds won 1-0 at Goodison Park but Everton had eight shots on target, while the two teams shared a combined 38 attempts on goal.

It will be fascinating to see how both managers approach this reverse fixture.

Everton have been more circumspect lately, but if they opt for attack-minded tactics again this could be another barnstorming affair.

Tomorrow: Adrian Clarke on Tuchel's start at Chelsea

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