Tottenham Hotspur's wingbacks play key role as they condemn Leeds United to defeat - tactical analysis
After a dominant first half from Leeds, the influence of Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal on either flank helped the hosts get more of a grip on the game while stretching Leeds more.
United’s set-up and performance in the first half was perfect.
After losing Raphinha and Rodrigo ahead of kick off, Bielsa’s side sat in a 3-3-1-3 when they had the ball. Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips - who had an excellent first half - and Diego Llorente sat in the back three when the Whites had possession.
Stuart Dallas and Pascal Struijk dropped into the full-back slots when Spurs were attacking but Leeds’ press was so effective that the hosts attacks were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes.
United were just lacking that last bit of quality in the final third but it arrived just before half time when Jack Harrison skipped past Royal to deliver a cross onto the foot of the on-running Daniel James.
Spurs left the pitch with an expected goals ratio of 0.06, highlighting Leeds’ dominance.
However, in the second half, the Spurs wing-backs became more effective as the hosts went on to turn the game around.
A big part of the victory came from the hosts’ energy in the second half. They outran Leeds by four kilometres. And Bielsa’s side don’t get outran very often.
Leeds struggled to contain Tottenham, whose expected goals in the second half was 2.07, as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg claimed the equaliser.
That goal came after Reguilon’s cross caused some problems for Leeds. The visitors had plenty of players to mark as Harry Kane, Lucas Moura and Emerson Royal all tried to exploit the gaps between the visiting defenders.
Regulion’s delivery did not lead directly to Spurs' first goal but his pass was collected by Lucas Moura who then cross for Hjobjerg to score.
Reguilon then scored the winner as he was the only one to react after Eric Dier’s free-kick hit the post.
The home side became much better at retaining the ball in the second 45 minutes. Leeds had a few chances early in the half but their opportunities became very limited late in the contest as Spurs managed the game well.
Phillips felt Leeds lacked concentration in the second half but that was partly caused by Tottenham driving more men forward while their wing-backs gave the visitors plenty more to think about.
The result may have felt harsh on Leeds given their excellence in the first half but the hosts made their dominance count when they got their game plan right and that eventually proved the difference.