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Talking Tactics

How Gnonto's direct approach can trouble Villa

11 Jan 2023

Adrian Clarke says forward brings fresh energy and impetus to Leeds' attack

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 20.

Wilfried Gnonto (LEE)

The emergence of exciting 19-year-old Gnonto has added fresh energy into Leeds United's attack, as he aims to help his side return to winning ways at Aston Villa on Friday night.

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Signed from Zurich last summer, it took a while for Jesse Marsch to integrate the winger into his first-team plans.

On his debut in October, Gnonto impressed off the bench in a 2-1 win at Liverpool and has since become a fixture in the squad.

That night, it was his jinking run and cross that helped create Crysencio Summerville's dramatic 89th-minute winner at Anfield.

Gnonto, capped eight times by Italy, fully announced himself with a superb assist for another decisive goal, this time in a 4-3 home success against AFC Bournemouth.

Gnonto v AFC Bournemouth

And on his last Premier League outing, he scored his first goal for the club with a fierce left-footed strike against West Ham United.

Villa will need to be wary of his dynamism and unpredictability inside the final third.

Gnonto is a diminutive figure, standing at only 5ft 7in, but he has explosive pace, especially in short spaces.

His inclusion in Marsch's starting XI has given Leeds fresh impetus and he is the third-fastest member of their attack.

Quickest Leeds players in 2022/23
Player Top speed km/h
Crysencio Summerville 34.4
Robin Koch 33.7
Wilfried Gnonto 33.3
Pascal Struijk 33.2
Jack Harrison 33.2

Featuring for a head coach that encourages high tempo play, it is a tactical style that suits him.

Gnonto is positive in his approach and looks to take on defenders at every opportunity, usually from the left, but sometimes in central areas too.

He carries the ball 162.7m per 90 minutes on average, which is further than any other Leeds player.

Furthest distance with ball (LEE)
Player Distance carried (metres)
Wilfried Gnonto 162.7
Luis Sinisterra 154.3
Crysencio Summerville 147.0
Dan James 144.1
Diego Llorente 140.7

Villa must work hard to keep their shape and limit the space Gnonto has to operate in.

If Gnonto is not contained, it could be a long night for Unai Emery's side.

Also in this series

Part 1: Willian can be Fulham's talisman against former club Chelsea
Part 3: Rashford form gives United shot at derby success
Part 4: Kane heads for 200 PL goals with Arsenal in his sights

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