The Whites dominated the first half after the Foxes took the lead through Harvey Barnes, but the hosts were lucky that the scores were level at half time. Dallas’ goal was delightful in both the build-up and the finish, and Kasper Schmeichel had to be at his best to keep out Jack Harrison, Raphinha and Bamford.
Today Leicester conceded 3+ goals at home to a newly promoted side in a single Premier League match for the first time since Peter Taylor's side suffered a 5-0 defeat to Bolton in August 2001. https://t.co/fJcL9MCDbX— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) January 31, 2021
Brendan Rodgers tweaked his system in the second half and Leeds were soon on the back foot; Illan Meslier was the goalkeeper being kept busiest, while Cooper and Struijk made their case for being perhaps the best central defensive partnership yet this season.
It was Leeds who struck next, though, as Raphinha’s wonderful pass allowed Bamford to smash in his 11th goal of the season. Leicester committed men forward, but the visitors sealed the win with a deadly counter-attack finished off by Harrison.
Today was also the first time Leicester City dropped points from a winning position this season, having won all 12 of their previous league games in 2020/21 when ahead. #LUFC pic.twitter.com/MMdzK4GMeY— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) January 31, 2021
While the 1-1 draw against Manchester City showcased Leeds’ ability to compete with top sides, and the 5-0 win over West Brom was a demonstration of pure domination, to come from behind against a team with European ambitions and the results to show for it was a huge statement.
Here are three things we learned from the masterclass at the King Power.
Bamford knocking on England door
Even when Bamford already had 10 Premier League goals to his name for the campaign, a goalless streak of four matches was enough to sow the seeds of doubt into top flight supporters, who questioned whether they had already seen the best of the striker.
If the fact that he captained himself on Fantasy Premier League for the win over Newcastle United was not a sign that he was still loaded with confidence, his goal and two assists yesterday certainly were.
Tony Yeboah is the only Leeds played who has been directly involved in more goals in their first 20 Premier League appearances (17) than Patrick Bamford (15) in 2020/21.— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) January 31, 2021
Thronker. #LUFC pic.twitter.com/TI7hM5pxSr
The 27-year-old was at his best for Leeds, playing a major role in all three goals scored against Leicester. For the first, he drew Wesley Forfana out of position having received the ball from Luke Ayling, before playing a perfectly weighted ball for Dallas to run onto and score the opener.
His goal was as emphatic a finish as any he has scored this season, taking full advantage of the precise assist from Raphinha that took the defenders out of the equation and rifling a first-time effort into the far corner.
Bamford with a beauty!— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 31, 2021
Raphinha's first time pass sets Bamford away and his left foot strike is perfect. Top
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Three points were secured when Leeds engaged in a counter attack following a Leicester corner, and Bamford - having pressed his opponents for over 84 minutes already - ran the full length of the pitch before unselfishly passing up the opportunity to score his 100th league goal in football.
Indeed, it was that unselfishness that made it one of his best performances yet in a white shirt. His three key passes were only surpassed by Ayoze Perez (5), and resulted in the creation of three big chances. Having also had his header from a first half corner brilliantly denied by Schmeichel, it was certainly a productive afternoon.
There was no better time to put in a top draw display, with England manager Gareth Southgate watching in the stands. Barnes and Kalvin Phillips may have been higher on his priority list, but Bamford’s all-round performance vastly overshadowed his fellow international hopefuls.
Ben White’s replacement may have been hiding under our noses all along
The failure to reacquire Ben White from Brighton on a permanent basis was a bitter pill for Leeds fans to swallow, and the Peacocks have been forced to go much of the season without either of his replacements in Robin Koch and Diego Llorente.
While disturbing images of the 23-year-old being fielded in central midfield and at wing-back by Graham Potter might tug at the heartstrings, his actual replacement may have been sitting under our noses all along.
Pascal Struijk vs. Leicester:— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) January 31, 2021
55/67 successful passes ( most on pitch)
5 clearances ( most on pitch)
4 ball recoveries
3/3 headed clearances
2/2 tackles won
1 blocked shot
0 dribbled past
An impressive display and completed the most passes. pic.twitter.com/IHgUjWtRgT
Pascal Struijk would not have expected much first team action this season. However, regular injuries to the summer signings along with Cooper have led to the fourth-choice centre-back making eight league appearances so far.
Having struggled in previous matches, particularly when filling in at holding midfield, the Dutch defender has likely risen up the permanent pecking order after playing a starring role yesterday afternoon.
Pascal Struijk has now started ten matches in three different positions this season (LCB, CDM, RCB). So far he has had three different partners in central defence (Koch, Ayling, Cooper). Five wins & three clean sheets in those matches. #lufc— Tommy (@tommy_lufc) January 31, 2021
Struijk completed more passes (55) than any other Leeds player, highlighting his distributive ability despite Leicester pipping the visitors in possession. Defensively, he registered two tackles, four interceptions, five clearances, while he blocked one shot and did not allow an opponent to dribble past him at any point in the game.
You can read more about Struijk’s display against Leicester, along with his overall progression this season, in this brilliant piece by Kyle Newbound.
Leeds play Leicester at their own game - and win
While the scoreline may have flattered Leicester in the reverse fixture last year, their 4-1 win at Elland Road was a result of their resolute counter-attacking style, and particularly the role played by star striker Jamie Vardy.
Injury to the 34-year-old forced the Foxes to change their approach, however, and they have since turned to possession-based tactics while they wait for the veteran striker to return to fitness.
This effectively led to the clubs occupying opposite roles at the King Power Stadium, with Leicester eventually chasing the game and consequently dominating possession while Leeds punished them on the break.
Like many I was wondering what Bielsa might do to change things during the frustrating second half lull caused by Leicester changing their system but ultimately it just required patience, lots of pressing & some quality counter-attacking. Played the hosts at their own game. #lufc— Tommy (@tommy_lufc) January 31, 2021
Even before Rodgers’ side lost their lead they limited the Whites in possession, and the switch from 4-2-3-1 to 3-4-3 after the interval saw Leeds’ pass success rate drop from 78 to 64 percent.
It is fitting then, having dominated matches while squandering chances last season, that the tables have turned. Revenge is a dish best served cold, as they say.
Who was your man of the match against Leicester?
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