Talking Tactics

How fast start can help Leeds topple Spurs

By Adrian Clarke 22 May 2023
Leeds United

Adrian Clarke looks at how Sam Allardyce's side must approach vital match on the final day

Related Articles
Greatest last-day relegation escapes in PL history
The relegation battle: What each club needs on the final day
Flashback: Leeds win seven-goal thriller against Spurs

Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in the final day of the relegation battle.

Team analysis - Leeds United

Catching Tottenham Hotspur cold with a fast and aggressive start, could hold the key to Leeds' hopes of safety on the final day.

TV Info

All three relegation-threatened sides will be aiming to lay down an early marker with the first goal on Sunday, heaping pressure on the others to find a response.

Playing in Leeds’ favour is that Spurs, who themselves are battling it out for a place in Europe next season, have been consistently slow starters in 2022/23.

See: The relegation battle: What each club needs on the final day

No Premier League side have conceded more often inside the opening 15 minutes, something that should provide Sam Allardyce’s men with encouragement to get on the front foot right away.

Most goals conceded in opening 15min 22/23
Club Goals
Spurs 14
AFC Bournemouth 14
Leicester  13
Aston Villa 10
Leeds 6

Spurs have not won on the road since January and in their last three away fixtures, all ending in defeat, they started very slowly.

Conceding in the third minute twice, and in the eighth minute last time out against Aston Villa, there is a vulnerability that Leeds will look to capitalise on in the opening stages.

First goal v Spurs last three away matches
Player Time
Jacob Ramsey (AVL)  8 mins
Curtis Jones (LIV) 3 mins
Jacob Murphy (NEW) 3 mins
Turn to youngsters

For Leeds, there are injury concerns over strikers Rodrigo and Patrick Bamford, while Luis Sinisterra is also a confirmed absentee.

If his two main front men are not fit to start, Allardyce may need to be imaginative with his tactical approach, by finding a way for his wingers and attacking midfield players to make the difference.

Crysencio Summerville (four goals, two assists), Wilfried Gnonto (two goals, four assists) and Brenden Aaronson (one goal, three assists) have been excellent in flashes this season, but all have lacked consistent productivity.

That said, along with Jack Harrison, they have been Leeds’ most creative players.

Leeds chances created in open play/90
Player Chances/90
Wilfried Gnonto 1.40
Brenden Aaronson 1.38
Jack Harrison  1.16
Crysencio Summerville 1.02

With Leeds potentially short on firepower, these three youngsters, all 22 or under, will be asked to step up and deliver goals themselves.

Gnonto has bags of trickery and panache, while Aaronson is an attacking midfielder who offers great energy in and out of possession.

Summerville, who has been on the periphery of the side in recent months, is perhaps the most likely of the trio to break into the box and try his luck with efforts on goal.

Leeds most touches/shots in box
Player Touches/90 Rank Shots/90 Rank
Summerville 4.64 3rd 1.46 4th
Gnonto 3.08 5th 0.94 5th
Aaronson 2.98 6th 0.92 6th

In last chance saloon, needing a win and other results to go their way, Leeds will almost certainly name a starting XI that is attack-minded as possible.

Unable to deliver a clean sheet in their last 13 matches, Allardyce knows that to earn a victory, his team may need to score two or more goals at Elland Road.

It will be a big ask against quality opponents, but providing Leeds start quickly, play at a high tempo inside the Spurs half and take their chances, this is a match they can win.

Also in this series

Part 1: How Everton can capitalise on set-piece threat
Part 2: Why Smith must trust Maddison and Barnes

Latest Videos

More Videos