Date: 20th November 2020 at 12:00pm
Written by:

UArsenal legend Ian Wright has claimed that Leeds United are too reliant on players to play in specific positions, such as Kalvin Phillips operating in holding midfield.

Marcelo Bielsa has never shied away from letting the footballing world know how he intends to manage his teams from week to week, and the English press have become well-versed to understanding his setup, due to his meticulous explanation.

A pragmatic manager might not be able to outline how he manages his team to such precise detail, but we saw from Bielsa’s famous ‘Spygate’ press conference that he’s very open with his methods.

What we know now is that the brilliance of it doesn’t come from the unpredictability, but more that it’s one thing knowing what you’re stopping, it’s another being actually able to cope.

Liverpool’s quality in the opening fixture (as well as good fortune) helped them to a 4-3 win but Jurgen Klopp’s preparedness wasn’t enough to still be left in awe by the tactics and setup of Leeds.

What this shows is that while Bielsa lays out his style every week for all to see, it’s not as simple as ‘we know how to beat you now, so we’ll go out and do it’.

However, this seems to be the view of former Arsenal striker Ian Wright, who was previewing the game on his podcast, Wrighty’s House.

Despite Wright’s growing fondness for Leeds since Eddie Nketiah signed on-loan, Wright was still of the belief that Bielsa has no plan B and his players are somewhat fixed to certain roles.

“Did you see when Leeds came and played us in the FA Cup?” Wright said.

“They gave us a chasing bro. Oh my God, it was a joy to watch what they did to my team!

“But what you see is how reliant it is on every single player doing their exact specific jobs.”

Wright alludes to how with Bielsa’s specific tactics system, some players’ roles in the system often become somewhat fixed and unable to adapt, should injuries strike.

He continues, highlighting Kalvin Phillips as a key issue for this argument: “You look at Kalvin Phillips missing, they lost 4-1 only because nobody else can play the role that he plays.

“He doesn’t have a plan B. We know exactly what Bielsa is going to do. He’s not going to come and say ‘they’ve changed’, there’s nothing to work out.”

While Wright makes a good claim that Phillips’ absence is sorely missed and hardly replaced, we did not lose both of those games on that fact alone.

The Leicester defeat was deserved but could easily have swung on Patrick Bamford’s two missed chances in the first half, while his unfairly ruled out goal against Palace also had a huge impact.

With Phillips set to return this weekend, the Arsenal camp might be a touch more fearful of what Leeds can do back at full-strength, raring to bounce back from consecutive 4-1 defeats.

Click for the forum