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Leeds' turn the page after Brentford defeat and it all makes for good Reading

After a disappointing defeat at home to Brentford, the harbingers of doom were out out for Leeds and the vultures of criticism were circling. Next up were Reading, Leeds are notoriously bad on their travels - there could surely only be one result...

Bellusci gets one of his six successful tackles in
Bellusci gets one of his six successful tackles in
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Sometimes it is an absolute pleasure to write about Leeds United, other times it's not. Writing about Leeds' 2-0 smackdown of Reading came in the former category; it was an absolute pleasure writing about this victory.

Marco Silvestri’s distribution accuracy showed a much better improvement in this game from a last game figure of 36% accuracy success in his distribution to a new figure in this game of 47%. This came from 7 successful goal kicks, 3 successful throw, 2 kicks from hand and 6 successful kicked/passed clearances. This upturn in his distribution was also matched by a much more assured game between the sticks with him coming to collect 5 balls with a 100% claim rate. Marco Silvestri made 4 saves in the game which is good enough for him moving up to the 3rd-ranked keeper in the Championship in the total saves category. Marco Silvestri’s shot-stopping ability is key to Leeds’ fortunes, with the 33 goals conceded from open-play vs the 131 on-target, open-play shots faced, he has a save% of 74.80%.

Wow – now this was a strong, solid and cohesive defensive performance. The defensive four made 17 tackle attempts and only lost 2 of these; this giving a tackle success % of 88%. Without too much back-slapping, Sol Bamba has really helped to galvanise this backline…in just three games. He has per 90 returns for the following categories of the following: tackles won 2.67 and interceptions 6. The returns for this game help to indicate just how glowing a start he’s had to his Leeds career; 4 tackles is above his return of 2.67 tackles per 90 and, whilst his 2 interceptions were below his figure of 6 interceptions per 90, it just shows how well he played in the opening two games against Huddersfield and Brentford. Just looking at his tackle success rate of 89% and it is easy to see why Leeds fans are drooling over his performances and what he brings to the team. Saying this isn’t meant to take the gloss from a very good defensive performance by the whole unit. Giuseppe Bellusci benefitted also from the presence of Sol Bamba and appeared more composed. Bellusci completed 6 tackles (vs figure of 1.87 tackles per 90) and made 3 interceptions (vs figure of 2.89 interceptions per 90). Whichever way you try and dissect this performance, you cannot get away from how solid the defensive performance was.

Leeds were effective in midfield without being spectacular, efficient without being overly industrious in nature or prodigious in output. Passing-wise, the six players who took the field, made a total 163 pass attempts with 63.80% of these being in a direction forward of where the ball was received by the eventual passer. Leeds’ midfield also played 89 of their 163 passes into the ‘final third’ zone of the field, showing their intent to take the game to Reading and force them onto the back foot. An indication of this can be seen in the heat map graphic (below). It wasn’t only a passing/pressing performance from Leeds’ midfield; they also tackled well – none more so than Luke Murphy, Tommaso Bianchi (before his unfortunate injury) and Sam Byram. Between the three of them, they made 14 tackle attempts (Bianchi 3, Byram 3 and Murphy 8) and were successful in 12 of them (Bianchi 3/3, Byram 3/3 and Murphy 6/8) for a combined tackle success rate of 85.70%. In fact, if you take into account the attempts/successes by Caper Sloth and Alex Mowatt then the total tackle successes/tackle attempts is 14/19 or 73.70%. This solidity in midfield, that wasn’t there in the Leeds United 2014 variant is down to the change in tactical formation and applying the 4-2-3-1 Double Six formation.

In the above 'heatmap' graphic, you can see the effect that the Leeds United midfield, minus the injured Tommaso Bianchi, had on the game. They were most active (areas of green) in the Reading area of the midfield zone and across the whole of the pitch too. This helped to keep Reading pressed back and on the back foot.

Steve Morison did everything he could during this game to help Leeds win. He created two shot assists for fellow Leeds players, held play up well, had 3 shots (hitting the post with one shot) and had an assist with a lofted dink to the back post for Sam Byram’s killer ball. Despite the Facebook and Twitter intelligencia clamouring for his demotion, under the new tactical formation Steve Morison is key. However, it might be an idea to see Albanian Edgar Çani given an extended run out to assess what options he offers up front.

In-text statistics courtesy of whoscored.com