Leeds United – West Ham United: Aerial Strength Wins West Ham The Game (1-2)
An early penalty put Leeds in a comfortable position, but the score was evened out not much after that. Both teams then continued to produce end-to-end attacking situations, but by having a solid defense in the center of the park, Moyes’ side managed to force Leeds out wide for crosses on a consistent basis. Particularly because of this endeavor, the away side’s aerial power proved to be decisive defensively and, in the end, the second goal from a header cemented their superiority in the air offensively as well.
Tactical analysis and match report by Daryl Gouilard.
With a congested December schedule upon the teams, a good start could bring them some momentum heading into the Christmas period. Leeds looked to turn their fortune around after only managing to secure four points in their last five matches. As they welcomed West Ham United, a team who were performing at their best in recent matches, it was predicted that the home side would face a difficult challenge.
Bielsa went for a 4-1-4-1 formation, which included the returnees Rodrigo Moreno and Mateusz Klich, who paired up at the heart of Leeds’ midfield. With both new signings, Diego Llorente and Robin Koch, missing out due to different injuries, the Argentinian manager had to revisit the idea of using Luke Ayling as a center-back alongside captain Liam Cooper. Upfront, in-form Patrick Bamford was supported by dynamic the wingers, Jack Harrison and Raphinha.
Meanwhile, his opponent, Moyes, made a surprise change to his lineup by changing from the usual 5-2-3 formation back to a 4-4-1-1 shape. This meant that Aaron Cresswell returned to his preferred left back . . .