Talking Tactics

Harrison and Rodrigo can put Leeds on the front foot

By Adrian Clarke 11 May 2023
Harrison and Rodrigo TT graphic

Adrian Clarke says the pair's directness can cause problems for Newcastle on Saturday

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Player analysis - Jack Harrison & Rodrigo (LEE)

Leeds United’s urgent need for three points will likely shift Sam Allardyce’s focus to attack as he prepares for his first home match at Elland Road against Newcastle United.  

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His team defended with resilience for long periods in a 2-1 defeat at Manchester City last weekend, despite enjoying just 19.1 per cent of possession.  

In front of their own fans, Allardyce has to encourage a more front-footed approach, even if he persists with the 4-5-1 shape used at the Etihad Stadium.  

Harrison can be key

Over the course of 2022/23 Harrison has been an integral member of Leeds' squad, and they need him to be at his best in their final three matches.  

No Leeds player has assisted more goals (seven) than Harrison, and he tops the club’s rankings in other key creative categories.  

Harrison's attacking stats
2022/23 Total LEE rank
Assists 7 1st
Chances created 52 1st
Open-play crosses 88 1st
Poss. won in final third 36 1st

Harrison has been used as a left-winger, right-winger, central midfielder and No 10 this season, but Allardyce is likely to deploy him out wide.  

His left-foot crosses are consistently accurate, and with Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo attacking them inside the penalty area, those deliveries will be crucial.  

If he starts on the left, Harrison will need to play exceptionally well to win his duel against Kieran Trippier, so at times we may see him switch to the right where he can try to attack Dan Burn in 1v1s.  

Harrison will certainly need to be more involved than he was in his 68 minutes at Man City.   

He spent most of that contest keeping his discipline out of possession.  

Over the course of the match he made only five passes and three crosses, with a single pass reaching its intended target.  

Harrison will surely be far more influential on Saturday.  

Harrison v Man City 
Harrison pass and cross map
Harrison's passes and crosses (successful in green) during 2-1 defeat to Man City
Time for Rodrigo to start? 

Rodrigo has featured for only 369 minutes in the Premier League since February, starting three times.  

He came off the bench to score at City in a lively cameo and will now be in contention to earn a place in the starting XI.  

If Allardyce wants to adopt a positive style of play, Rodrigo could operate in behind main striker Bamford.  

The alternative would see him replace Bamford as the spearhead of their attack.  

Rodrigo attacking stats
2022/23 Total LEE rank
Goals 12 1st
Conversion rate 27.9% 1st
Touches in box 97 1st
Shots 62 1st
Shots on target 25 1st
Headed shots 12 1st

Like Harrison, Rodrigo has been one of Leeds’s most productive performers.  

From only 20 starts he leads their rankings for goals (12) and all the other main attacking metrics.  

His impressive conversion rate of 27.9 per cent also means Leeds will want their best goalscoring opportunities to fall his way in this high-pressure encounter.  

Plenty of concentration will be needed without the ball against a team of Newcastle’s quality, but to win this match Leeds must also show conviction going forward.  

Harrison and Rodrigo are two reliable players that need to make an impact if Leeds are to pick valuable points to boost their hopes of staying up.

Also in this series

Part 1: How Jorginho has benefited from defensive change
Part 3: Fabinho finding form at right time to stop Maddison
Part 4: Calvert-Lewin has strength to trouble leaders

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