Do you know what, there is no better feeling than an approaching game day when you are coming off the back of a much improved performance against a team seen by many as as 'dangerous opponent'. Leeds' 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest may not have pulled up many trees but it did appear to be a much improved performance showing better cohesion. The defence didn't crumble into 'Chuckle Brother' defending along the lines of "to me, to you, to him, to goal", we looked solid in certain phases of the game and, when we were a goal down, we didn't fold like a bad Poker player. Still, keeping with the 'card-playing' analogy, bluffing only gets you so far before you are found out - we can't keep convincing opponents we are holding a 'running straight' when they are holding 'four aces' - we'll end up down 'the river'.
Game days are made better when your opponents are a 'former big club' and hail from the other side of t'hill called t'Pennines from that dark place called Lancashire. Friday sees the arrival of Wigan Athletic at Elland Road for the first fixture of the season between the two teams. Will it be a 'War of the Roses' or a 'Bore of the Roses'? The answer to that question will be evident come the shrill trill of the final whistle. What I'd like to lay out are the cards as they stand at the moment; what do we know about both teams now?
Head-to-Head - the season for both teams
- Leeds find themselves in 18th position in the Championship with 24 points at 1.09 points per game (pp/g). The 18th placed team at the end of last season was Charlton with 1.11 pp/g return.
- Leeds have scored 25 goals and conceded 32 goals (1.14 'goals for' and 1.45 'goals against' per game). This gives them a -0.31 goals per game (gp/g) rating.
- Leeds have a total shot rating (TSR) for the season of .430 meaning that take 43% of shots per game and they allow opponents 57% of shots. TSR is a good measure of attacking skill and teams at the top of the table usually have a high TSR combined with high goal conversion from this. Leeds' TSR is .430 with 24 goals scored. For reference, Bournemouth have a TSR of .564 and have scored 44 goals.
- Over the last six games Leeds' record is: WLWLLD
- Wigan are firmly settled in 23rd place in the Championship table with 17 points at 0.77 pp/g. The relegation cut off last season was Doncaster Rovers who were relegated with 44 points at 0.96 pp/g.
- Wigan have scored 22 goals and conceded 30 goals (1 'goal for' and 1.37 'goals against' per game). This gives them a -0.37 goals per game (gp/g) rating.
- Wigan have a total shot rating (TSR) for the season of .522 meaning that take 52% of shots per game and they allow opponents 48% of shots. Wigan's TSR is .522 with 22 goals scored; this high TSR but low goal output indicates that either Wigan have poor shot execution or that opponents have a higher save skill.
- Over the last six games Wigans' record is: LDLLLL
Head-to-Head: this time it's personal
Adryan: the Brazilian prodigy that Leeds fans have come to expect so much from. Adryan has created 10 'shot assists' (SAs) for teammates from 206 'accurate passes' (APs). Adryan's 'shot assist from accurate passes' ratio (SA-AP) is 0.049 meaning that 4.9% of his passes end as shooting attempts for other Leeds United players. He has attempted 146 passes in a forward direction and 95 passes in a backward direction; this gives him a forward pass (FoP) ratio of 0.630. What this indicates is that he has a tendency to play passes forward of his position 63% of the time, helping to put Leeds United on the front foot. He also likes to dribble with the ball at his feet and commit defenders; to this end he has 1.93 successful dribble attempts per 90 (p/90). Whilst not scoring, Adryan has taken 16 shots with 44% accuracy and at the rate of 2.06 shots p/90
Callum McManaman: McManaman is Wigan's main goal threat and leading scorer. Whilst nominally occupying the same position (attacking midfield), they are both different players. McManaman has created 14 SAs for teammates from 228 APs and his SA-AP ratio is 0.061, meaning that 6.1% of successful passes he makes lead to shots for other Wigan players. Both McManaman and Adryan have comparable successful passes (228 and 206 respectively) which perhaps indicates that Callum McManaman isn't as high-volume a passer as Adryan is. This is supported by the fact that Callum McManaman only makes around 14.70 successful passes p/90 despite playing for exactly twice Adryan's 698 minutes of game time. He [McManaman] has made 145 forward passing attempts and 142 backward passing attempts for a FoP ratio of .50 which indicates that he doesn't have the same tendency to look for the forward ball as does Adryan. Like Adryan, McManaman likes to run with the ball at his feet and has successfully completed 45 dribbles at the rate of 2.90 p/90.
This game will not be won by two players, it could be won how the teams play to the strengths of these two players.Leeds must get the ball forward and, if playing the 4-4-2 diaond, them bringing the ball through midfield and to Adryan is a must. No matter how good a Brazilian playmaker is, you don't give him the ball, he can't make play. Moving away from this specific, Leeds simply need to get the ball forward and create more shooting opportunities; this is because goals come from shots and Leeds' strikers have good conversion rates from shots on target.
Wigan's high TSR and low goals scored indicates that despite high volume of shots that they are wasteful in front of goal. This is something that Leeds need to work on; using the midfield anchor man and the defenders to starve Wigan of a.) possession and b.) shooting opportunities. Coupled with this, match day confidence could play a big role and Wigan do come int this game on the back of something of a disastrous run of 1 point gained from a possible 18 available and this is truly the form of relegation favourites.
Personally I feel this will be a low scoring game, there will be goals, and it will be won in midfield and up front where Leeds definitely have the edge. With both teams having abjectly bad defences at times, maybe Leeds' goalkeeper Marco Silvestri is the deciding factor in this game.