DATA DEPENDENT: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United compared to peers.

This weekend, Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United takes on Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. It’s a 21st century David vs Goliath matchup in that Leeds are a newly promoted side against a perennial Top 4 side. Obviously, they are a storied club but their financial hardships, thanks to large loans, and a series of relegations that dragged the team into the third division did significant damage. When United finally won promotion back to the top flight, it was greeted with much celebration. 

To his credit, Bielsa has managed to keep Leeds in a safe enough position (11th place) that relegation appears unlikely. By and large, he’s done so with a Championship side. Using our trusty FB Manager database (since that’s about as far as our budget allows), we compared Leeds United’s squad to other teams they’ve faced recently (using opponents’ lineups for the match) to determine whether they’ve been outperforming or underperforming, based solely on cumulative player ratings. It’s quick and dirty but useful for building a rough sketch of the team.

In terms of Chelsea, Tomas Tuchel’s formation of choice has been 3-4-2-1 but his lineup has varied, in particular his front three. It’s still early days for him so he’s still working out his best combinations. That being the case, we’ll just go with the team he put out against Everton last weekend.



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For the most part, Bielsa has lined his team up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, except for when he’s facing a team he feels more confident about his team’s chances. He’s been fairly consistent with his lineups, except for a substitution here and there.

LEEDS UNITED (4-1-4-1)

Bamford (62)

Raphina (64) Kling (64) Roberts (60) Helier Costa (66)

Struijk (49)

Dallas (64) Cooper (64) Llorente (72) Ayling (63)

Messier (58)

FBM TOTAL: 686

ASTON VILLA (4-3-3)

El Ghazi (63) Watkins (64) Traore (69)

Ramsey (45) Nakamba (63) McGinn (69)

Target (62) Mings (67) Konya Ngoyo (64) Al Mohamady (59)

Martinez (67)

FBM TOTAL: 692

WEST HAM UNITED (4-2-3-1)

Antonio (67)

Benrahma (65) Lindgard (70) Fornals (71)

Rice (67) Soucek (66)

Cresswell (65) Diop (66) Dawson (65) Cougar (64)

Fanianski (73)

FBM TOTAL: 739

SOUTHAMPTON (4-4-2)

Redmond (71) Adams (64)

Tella (45) Romeu (65) Ward-Prowse (70) Armstrong (67)

Bertrand (69) Saliso (57) vestergaard (64) rednarek (67)

McCarthy (65)

FBM TOTAL: 704

WOLVERHAMPTON (3-5-3)

Traore (72) Willian Jose (74) Pedro Neto (59)

Jonny (73) Joao Moutinho (76) Ruben Neves (75) Nelson Semedo (74)

Saiss (65) Coady (69) Dendoncker (70)

Rui Patricio (76)

FBM TOTAL: 783

ARSENAL (4-2-3-1)

Aubameyang (82)

Smith Rowe (66) Odegaard (74) Saka (66)

Xhaka (71) Ceballos (71)

Cedric Soares (65) Gabriel Magalhaes (64) David Luiz (72) Bellerin (74)

Leno (74)

FBM TOTAL: 779

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1)

Martial (75)

Rashford (76) Fernandes (79) James (69)

Fred (71) McTominay (71)

Shaw (69) Maguire (75) Lindelof (73) Wan-Bissaka (72)

De Gea (83)

FBM TOTAL: 813

CHELSEA (3-4-2-1)

Havertz (76)

Hudson-Odoi (70) Werner (78)

Alonso (72) Kovacic (82) Jorginho (79) James (70)

Zouma (75) Christensen (73) Azpilicueta (75)

Mendy (75)

FBM TOTAL: 825

With Leeds one spot above Wolverhampton and three above Southampton, it’s likely the case that Bielsa’s team is slightly overperforming while Wolves and the Saints are underperforming.


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