Talking Tactics

How Koleosho's pace and trickery can trouble Man Utd

By Adrian Clarke 20 Sep 2023
Luca Koleosho

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Adrian Clarke looks at key tactical points and players who can be decisive in Matchweek 6.

Player analysis: Luca Koleosho (Burnley)

Burnley face a Manchester United side who are defensively fragile at the moment, so in-form summer signing Koleosho could be a pivotal figure at Turf Moor on Saturday.

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The 19-year-old left winger has dazzled across their opening four matches, putting Clarets supporters on the edge of their seats with his pace and trickery down that flank.

Capable of surging past defenders with a burst of speed, or deceiving them with a clever body feint, the Italy Under-20 international is set to provide a stern examination for visiting full-back Diogo Dalot.

Fearless positivity

Koleosho may be new to Premier League football, but he plays with freedom and a sense of adventure, seeking to test opposition defenders in 1v1s.

He will stay wide, biding his time as Burnley build from the back. Then, once in possession Koleosho’s first thought is to run at the player.

Of the top-flight players to have featured for at least 200 minutes this season, he has attempted more dribbles per match than any other.

Koleosho's average of 3.96 completed dribbles per 90 minutes places him in the division’s top three, behind Matheus Nunes and Eberechi Eze.

Dribbles attempted/completed 2023/24
Player Dribbles attempted* Player Dribbles completed*
Luca Koleosho 8.24 Matheus Nunes 4.90
Matheus Nunes 6.68 Eberechi Eze 4.00
Eberechi Eze 6.00 Luca Koleosho 3.96
Benie Traore 5.91 Matheus Cunha 3.13
Pedro Neto 5.40 Yves Bissouma 3.11

*Per 90, min 200 mins played

Dalot will have to be careful with his decision-making.

The Portuguese full-back will want to get tight to Koleosho to prevent him using his speed.

Yet if Dalot commits himself or is slow reacting to Koleosho spinning off with a run behind him, he could be in trouble.

A nightmare for right-backs

World Cup winner Gonzalo Montiel was given the runaround by Koleosho in Monday night’s 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest, withdrawn on a yellow card after only 53 minutes at the City Ground.

He accelerated past him down the left, before skipping past Joe Worrall near the byline with a stunning burst of pace.

From his cutback Zeki Amdouni scored for the Clarets.

It was similar to the goal Koleosho created in Burnley’s 5-2 defeat at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

On that occasion he sprinted in behind Pedro Porro, before cutting the ball back for Lyle Foster to score.

Koleosho #1
Koleosho #2

Man Utd will need to be wary of these scenarios as they have struggled down their right flank in recent weeks.

Gabriel Martinelli cut the ball back for Martin Odegaard to score from the left side of the penalty box earlier this month, and two of Brighton & Hove Albion’s goals in a 3-1 defeat last time out stemmed from that flank too.

A player suited to Kompany's style

Vincent Kompany’s Burnley might be still awaiting their first win, but they play confident possession-based football.

In Koleosho, despite his inexperience, they have an individual who can supply incisiveness to go alongside that control.

When Burnley feed him the ball they tend to avoid overlaps, preferring to isolate him in direct 1v1 duels knowing his effectiveness as their best dribbler.

As shown on this touch map from their draw with Nott'm Forest, Koleosho almost exclusively got onto the ball in advanced areas, carrying it to the touchline on several occasions.


He is the second quickest member of the Burnley side, behind defender Ameen Al-Dakhil, and is brimming with confidence because of his goal involvements.

Fastest Burnley players in 2023/24
Player Top speed (km/h)
Ameen Al-Dakhil 34.97
Luca Koleosho 34.74
Lyle Foster 34.47
Vitinho 33.53
Sander Berge 33.42

If Man Utd are to end their run of three successive defeats in all competitions, they must contain Koleosho’s threat.

He has been one of the division’s most impressive new faces across the early stages of 2023/24.

Also in this series

Part 1: Can Brentford strike the right balance against Everton?
Part 3: Why Kulusevski is the player Arsenal must fear most
Part 4: Can Chelsea kickstart revival by matching Villa's finishing?

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