Luton Town vs Leeds United: Tactical Talking Points!

Leeds United faced an away trip to Luton Town looking to get another win and move into the automatic promotion places. The home team set up in a 4-4-2 diamond in possession but out of possession lined up in a 4-3-3. Leeds lined up roughly in a 3-1-5-1 but as always, played a number of formations throughout due to the fluency of the team.

As highlighted by their manager after the game, Luton were afraid of Leeds United attacking ability and decided to play a mid to low block out of possession. They also decided that they’d allow Leeds centre backs to have the ball without pressuring them and once the ball was played into our midfield and into Luton’s half, they’d try and press the ball. This was evident in the stats, with Ben White making the most passes (103) and the most touches (110) of any player on the pitch. In order to find space in Luton’s half, Leeds did a number of things. The first tactical move Leeds made was to overload the right hand side, Luton’s left. Phillips dropped into defence, allowing Ayling to move to right wing back, providing the width. This however only happened when Leeds were in possession, out of possession Leeds would move back to having Ayling as the right sided centre back. 

Luton main aim was to set traps and look to break on the counter with Izzy Brown being the main threat. They achieved this on a number of occasions and created chances but couldn’t make any clear cut ones. As you can see from the average player positions, Ayling played pretty much as a right back whilst Phillips and Dallas played in more defensive midfield positions

Leeds United average player positions

Both players still played relatively high due to Leeds having good possession and Luton playing so deep. Phillips role was to cover for White who had to shift across to cover for Ayling. Once this happened, Dallas was tasked to help out both Berardi on the left and Phillips in the middle. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve seen Dallas play a lot more offensive but in yesterdays game, he did a brilliant job of covering a number of spaces left behind by Leeds forward runners. Dallas made 5 tackles, the joint most in the game along with Collins for Luton. 

Dallas tackle positions

Like previously mentioned, Luton’s game play was to play on the counter and attack the spaces vacated by Leeds forward runners, particularly Ayling. The graphic below shows that 47% of Lutons attacks came down their left and Leeds right. Likewise, 52% of Leeds United attacks came down their right and Luton’s left. This was down to Leeds overloading the right forcing Luton to shift players across meaning that once possession turned over, the passing options were down that side of the pitch. 

Harrison who has been on good form lately, had a relatively quite game. With luton playing so narrow, he had loads of space over on the left like he normally does. However, Leeds found it hard to make the switch of play, attempting to switch play from right to left twice, failing both times. Due to this, Bielsa made a smart tactical change in the second half, bring on Jack Clarke. He went and played out on the left like Harrison however played a lot further up the pitch and more in field, compared to Harrison who played slightly deeper and hogged the touchline. Clarke didn’t see much of the ball whilst on the pitch, however his position inside gave Luton something else to think about. The two key players for Leeds United in an attacking sense were Pablo Hernandez and Mateusz Klich. Pablo lined up on the right hand side whilst Klich lined up in central midfield. Pablo caused problems for Luton’s left back, Potts all game. This was down to his movement, playing both in field and staying wide. This gave Potts a decision to make, whether or not to follow him in field and press the ball or to stay in position and pass him on to his midfield. Both decisions had consequences, when Potts followed him inside, he left space in behind which Klich ran into all game. We saw this perfectly with the goal, Pablo, Costa and Ayling combined dragging Potts out of position, Klich ran into the space meaning Luton’s centre back had to come across which left Bamford 1v1 against Luton’s other centre back. When Potts decided to stay in position, Pablo was then allowed space to pick a pass. In the end, Potts didn’t know whether to come or go. 

Overall Leeds United fully deserved to win the game and should have won the game by more goals. Better finishing and without a brilliant performance from Luton’s keeper Shea, it would have been a much more comfortable game. Leeds made Luton pay for allowing our defence to have the ball and couldn’t live with the movement and passing triangles of Pablo, Klich and Ayling which caused problems all game. Defensively, Leeds need to be more switched on when balls come into the box, whether that’s through a set piece or open play. Thats the only was we look like conceding at the moment. 3 points in the bag for Leeds but they will be hoping its a much more comfortable scoreline when they play reading on Tuesday. 

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