All the talk before Saturdays game from the statisticians was about Swansea to being ‘lucky’ to be where they are because they don’t create many quality chances. Coming into the match against Leeds their expected goals (xG) was 7.7 which had them in 13th place in the league, yet they had actually scored 11 goals meaning in reality they were up at the top of the table. The stat highlights how important being clinical being in goal is for teams and Leeds main criticism last season was that they were not clinical enough in front of goal.
Wigan at home, the moment when our season imploded, was a prime example. Leeds had 77% possession, 36 shots, 10 of which were on target but lost 2-1. Similar stats are playing out again this season, Leeds had 66% of the possession against Swansea with 21 shots, only 3 of which were on target. But can we lay the blame at the strikers for not being clinical? Or is there something else at play here? Bielsa ball means that we will always have a lot of the ball, it also means we will get the ball into good areas and create chances. But are they good enough chances?
The expected goals (xG) stats for Saturday had Leeds on 1.01 and Swansea on 0.22. It’s a stat that proves how much better than expected Swansea are doing but also highlights they quality, or lack of, the chances Leeds are creating. The xG value of a chance is dependent on where the shot is taken from, e.g. inside the box (0.387xG), outside the box (0.036xG) but it’s not unreasonable to assume that from a good quality chance we should have a 20% chance of scoring. With that in mind from 21 shots we should be looking at 4 goals, the fact that our xG was only 1.01 means we are not creating good quality chances in good areas.
Leeds had 29 attempted crosses on Saturday, only 5 of which were successful and out of 21 shots only 3 were on target. The number of successful take-ons from our wide players has been poor this season too. The issue isn’t necessarily the strikers not taking chances but the quality of the chances they are provided with. These were of course all issues highlighted last season and Leeds have looked to solve this with the signing of Helder Costa in the summer. Costa is yet to start a league game but proved his value on Saturday, with 3 out of 3 successful take-ons following his introduction on 72 minutes.
The view from the fans was clear. Leeds were guilty of not clearing the first man with crosses, unwilling to shoot and trying to walk the ball into the net. An extremely gutting result considering how solid we were at the back and how well Cooper, White and Dallas played. But dominating the game means noting if you don’t score. You are always susceptible to a smash and grab when the scores are level and you are pushing for a win and Swansea appear to be the team this year to pull of those kinds of results.
Results away from home have not been an issue this season with 3 wins out of 3 but it is a different story at Elland Road where Leeds have dropped 5 points in 3 games. As visiting teams pack the box Leeds are finding it difficult to create quality chances. Bielsa’s stubbornness means he will not change a winning team but perhaps at home it is time to try something different? Costa certainly seems like the answer and has impressed in his cameos so far. Surely we can’t leave £15 million worth of talent on the bench for much longer?
For far more insightful statistical analysis of Leeds United check out @AllStatsArentWe
Do Leeds create enough quality chances at Elland Road?