Attack, attack, attack – How Leeds United became one of the most exciting teams in Europe

Leeds United have been a breath of fresh air this season in the Premier League after spending the previous 16 years in the Championship. At the beginning of the season many expected Marcelo Bielsa’s side to struggle for the majority of the campaign and go straight down, instead they have been, on most occasions brilliant.

Leeds won’t be winning anything this season but that was never the objective, only survival was. However manager Bielsa had something else in mind, the Argentinian realised that the best form of defence in the Premier League is attack, plain and simple. Playing like that means they will lose heavy one week and win heavy the next and there has been a clear trend of that occurring. It has been wonderful and very entertaining to see.

Leeds United’s best games so far this season

Liverpool 4-3 Leeds United

Even though Leeds lost this game it was a statement match that the club were going to be a force this season. It was the opening weekend of the league season and the newly crowned champions Liverpool were ready to defend their title against the newly promoted side in Leeds. And what a game it was.

Leeds kept coming back when maybe they were not expected too and we were properly introduced to the likes of Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison who both scored. Liverpool won the game but it didn’t feel like it, that was the type of impact that Leeds had made.

Leeds United 4-3 Fulham

In Leeds very next game they were involved in another seven goal thriller but this time they won the game. Heider Costa had scored in the 5th minute to get the ball rolling and he would end up scoring a brace and Bamford got on the score sheet again. It was an important win and told everyone how Leeds can bounce back from defeat.

Leeds United 5-2 Newcastle United

Newcastle under Steve Bruce were expected to win this game mainly because of the experience that the club had gained in the Premier League. But Leeds attacking flowing and relentless football overwhelmed the Magpies and following goals by Bamford and Rodrigo, Leeds scored 3 goals in 11 second half minutes to smash Newcastle and end up winning 5-2 at home. By now in the season another player had emerged of quality in the team and that was Stuart Dallas who also scored in this game.

Leeds United 5-0 West Bromwich Albion

Given how poor West Bromwich Albion have been this season Leeds were expected to win. However for the most part whilst the Baggies have been losing games they have also been stubborn in defence. But they had no reply to the way Leeds were playing this game. An own goal flew into the back of the net inside the first ten minutes which set up this game nicely for Leeds. Another 4 goals followed- all by different scorers and some lovely ones to boot in an easy win for the home side.

What has made Leeds such a brilliant attacking side?

The simple answer is Marcelo Bielsa. Leeds have only really shown that passion and fight since Bielsa was appointed as manager. In his first season Leeds did well in the Championship and got to the play-offs but lost it, that would have been agonizing. In the clubs 2nd attempt they made no mistakes, this, after being stuck in the second tier of English football since 2004.

Bielsa has implemented a team that work hard and work the ball out from the back. The club are not afraid to bring their defenders forward and commit and some of their dummy play in midfield has created spaces and more opportunities to score. What has been revealing is that Leeds are a team who do not give up. Even earlier in the season when they played Manchester United and lost 6-2. Even at that score Leeds played as if they were just looking for one goal to level it up.

Of course the Manchester United defeat revealed when the tactics can go wrong, when Leeds play to attack against a very good attacking side, yes they will score a few but could lose heavy. But for the neutral and surely for the Leeds fan it is a joy to watch overall. Bielsa seems to prefer the 4-3-3 formation but you get the feeling that he would be happy to change that up to. Though hell would have to freeze over before he played 5 at the back, his philosophy on that is clear, what’s the point?

Leeds Top 3 performers this season

1. Patrick Bamford 59pts

2. Jack Harrison 44pts

3. Mateusz Klich 31pts

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Premier League Game of the Week: Leicester 1-3 Leeds United

One could have expected Leicester to have roared on in their surprise quest for a 2nd Premier League title in 5 years, after all the Foxes have done so well this season and came into this game having won 12 of their 20 so far. But Leeds United are the team that keep on asking questions after the school bell has sounded. The team that keep pressing when you feel lethargic and the team that are here to stay in the Premier League.

Former Leeds great Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink noted a month ago that he felt his former side would be relegated this season and one has to wonder how wrong can a player turned media pundit have been? Yes you may argue that hindsight is a wonderful thing, though when he claimed this Leeds had 23 points and we were not even at the half way stage of the season- unless Leeds were about to record the mother of all collapses there was next to no chance that Marcelo Bielsa’s team were going down this season. One almost feels that Leeds heard the words of their former player and are partly playing on a level just to prove him wrong.

That was the case in keeping as Leeds surprised Leicester at King Power Stadium by coming away with a 3-1 victory. By far the man of the match was the ultra talented Patrick Bamford. He scored one and assisted in the other two.

But it would be the home side who would take the lead through the impressive Harvey Barnes his precision shot was set up by James Maddison and Leicester looked well on their way to victory. However in the 15th minute and only three minutes after the Foxes took the lead Leeds were level. A great counter attacking move was finished off sweetly by Stuart Dallas who scored his 4th goal of the season. Indeed the equaliser had many similarities to Leicester’s opener.

The half ended 1-1 at no one could complain we had seen a fast paced and equal game and the score seemed to fit the duel we were watching.

Both sides came close in the 2nd half but the third goal of the game had to wait until the 70th minute. Raphinha set the ball up but this was all Bamford’s doing and he scored a peach of a goal, perhaps the best of the weekend to put Leeds into the lead. It didn’t feel like a surprise to see Marcelo Bielsa’s side take the lead but before the game Leicester were the favourites.

Perhaps the Foxes were missing Jamie Vardy and Ndidi two huge players for the club of course and Vardy had to miss the game because of his recent hernia operation although he hopes to be back this weekend.

As time ran out so did Leicester’s ideas and they were caught on the break- Leeds are one of the best sides in the Premier League for quick counter attacking- and Jack Harrison made it 3-1 after being set up by Bamford.

It was a fantastic win for Leeds who are now in 12th place with 29 points. They are at home to Everton next in midweek. As for Leicester they are still 4th and have 39 points and have a 4 point safety cushion to 5th. But manager Brendan Rodgers will be counting down the days until Vardy returns. Leicester’s next game is against Fulham at Craven Cottage.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players from Week 21

It’s been full steam ahead for the 2019 champions Manchester City who have emerged as the favourites to win the league title. City have won 26 points from their last 30 and at the weekend beat Sheffield United 1-0. City are 3 points clear at the top and have a game in hand.

Liverpool look back after their slump and have scored 6 goals in their last 2 games which were both away ones against Tottenham and West Ham. Tottenham’s league title hopes look dashed after losing back to back games and even the top 4 is in doubt now. Thomas Tuchel has started life with Chelsea with a draw against Wolves and a win over Burnley and Arsenal have gone seven league games unbeaten in their best period of form this season.

Let’s take a look below at the best 11 players of the Premier League over the past week, and you can check to see if any are in your side.

Goalkeeper: Damian Martinez- Aston Villa 7pts

Damian Martinez has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League this season and he earned another 7 points and his 10th clean sheet of the season as Aston Villa went to Southampton and won 1-0. The Saints had plenty of chances on goal and Martinez, as often this season, was there to protect his goal.

Defender: Cesar Azpilicueta- Chelsea 9pts

Not only did Cesar Azpilicueta keep a clean sheet as Chelsea beat Burnley 2-0 but he also scored one of the Blues’ goals. It was his 1st goal for the club this season and his value is 7m.

Defender: Trent Alexander-Arnold- Liverpool 6pts

Trent Alexander-Arnold was secure at the back for Liverpool to earn another six points as the champions beat West Ham away from home 3-1 and he now has 25 points overall this season.

Defender: Marcos Alonso- Chelsea 9pts

Marcos Alonso had the perfect game for him as he kept a clean sheet his first of the season since he has only started 4 league games and he also scored the winning goal for Chelsea as they beat Burnley 2-0 at the weekend.

Defender: Ruben Dias- Manchester City 5pts

Ruben Dias has been one of the best defenders in the league so far and he collected another 5 points as Manchester City beat Sheffield United 1-0. It was Dias’ 12th clean sheet of the season so far.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool 8pts

You just can’t keep him down and Mohamed Salah is back! Salah scored 2 goals at the weekend as Liverpool beat West Ham 3-1 and his 2nd one was superb. Salah is now the leading goalscorer in the Premier League with 15 goals so far.

Midfielder: Sadio Mane- Liverpool 6pts

Sadio Mane’s season has been slowly getting better after a sluggish start and he is becoming a staple player for Liverpool again. His influence has been shown in the last 2 games where Liverpool have beaten Tottenham and West Ham by the same score line of 3-1 and he has been able to earn another six points.

Midfielder: Roberto Firmino- Liverpool 6pts

Roberto Firmino had to start from the bench against West Ham but the Brazilian still came off it to score a goal as Liverpool beat West Ham 3-1 at the weekend. Firmino has scored six goals so far this season.

Midfielder: Ross Barkley- Aston Villa 6pts

Ross Barkley was the difference yet again as Aston Villa secured a great 1-0 victory over Southampton and a very important one. Barkley got the only goal and he has 22 points overall now.

Striker: Patrick Bamford- Leeds United 8pts

Patrick Bamford turned it on at the weekend as Leeds stunned Leicester by beating them 3-1. Bamford assisted in Leeds opening goal, then scored the 2nd and then assisted again in the 3rd. He was probably the player of the weekend in the Premier League pound for pound.

Striker: Callum Wilson- Newcastle United 8pts

Newcastle were expected to lose at Everton but striker Callum Wilson refused to read that story and he scored 2 goals as Newcastle beat Everton away from home 2-0. Wilson has had an excellent season so far scoring 10 goals and assisting in another 4.

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Premier League Game of the Week: Aston Villa 0-3 Leeds United

Aston Villa came into this encounter with Leeds United as the only team in the Premier League that held a 100% record. This was an incredible fact given that Dean Smith’s side had only just escaped the clutches of relegation last season.

Villa also came into this game with wins over Liverpool by an incredible 7-2 that will never be forgotten in the clubs history and then beating Leicester 1-0 at King Power Stadium. Shades of their 1980s greatness were being talked about and so this game at home to newly promoted Leeds United looked like another three points. But then again Villa were not counting on Patrick Bamford.

Bamford was brilliant in the Championship for Leeds and the worry was always going to be if the player could carry that over to such a higher level as the Premier League? But after scoring 6 goals and assisting in another those doubts should be laid to rest. He was by far the man of the match in this game as he scored a hat trick in a brilliant 3-0 victory for Leeds United.

Bamford pounced on a goal keeping error to open the scoring, and if that was seen as scrappy then his 2nd goal was a beauty. On the edge of the area he seemed to lift and simply place the ball into the top corner which left everyone stunned even his team mates. That could well be contender for goal of the season.

For his 3rd goal he danced around the Villa defence as if they weren’t there and slotted home a neat goal. Had this been Lionel Messi the plaudits would be out and the headlines would be all about those 2 goals. Bamford looks like a real talent and Leeds are lucky to have him.

Leeds dominated the game and had an incredible 27 attempts on goal with 9 on those o target. Villa were not quiet themselves as they had 4 shots on target in an enjoyable game. But this was an off day for the club who later on saw the impressive Jack Grealish booked which summed up his and Villa’s day- they simply were not at the races.

The defeat leaves Aston Villa in 3rd place with 12 points but Leicester and Tottenham are right behind them. Villa next play Southampton at home. As for Leeds they have risen up to sixth position and have 10 points and that was the clubs 3rd win of the season and Marcelo Bielsa’s team will play Leicester at home next.

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Premier League: Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Matchday 6

Everton finally lost as they went down 2-0 to Southampton but the Toffeemen still remain 1st in the league on goal difference over Liverpool who seem to have improved. Manchester City dropped 2 points against West Ham and Manchester United and Chelsea shared the spoils in a drab game. But which players made the final 11 cut of the weekend? And how many more points have you been able to earn this weekend? lets take a look.

Goalkeeper: Edouard Mendy- Chelsea 7pts

With the last minute injury to Chelsea regular Kepa Edouard Mendy had to step in and what a game he had in front of him away to Manchester United. But he remained solid and calm and made some good saves as Chelsea drew 0-0 and he really deserved his 7pts in the end.

Defender: Jannick Vestergaard- Southampton 5pts

Southampton became the first club to not only beat Everton this season but also keep a clean sheet against them. And Jannick Vestergaard was resilient in defence. And held the back line well.

Defender: Ben Chilwell- Chelsea 5pts

Chelsea went to Old Trafford and pulled off a 0-0 result and whilst Kurt Zouma did well in defence we should mention Ben Chilwell who is still in his first moments with Chelsea and yet at the weekend it felt like he had been playing with the club for several years.

Defender: Timothy Castagne- Leicester 5pts

Castgane put in another great performance as Leicester beat Arsenal for the first time in London since 1973. Arsenal had over 10 attempts at goal and the back four held firm. Castagne now has 13 points in total for the season and overall has started well for the Foxes.

Defender: Robin Koch- Leeds United 5pts

Robin Koch has already had an up and down season but Leeds inflicted the first defeat on Aston Villa’s season by going to Villa Park and winning 3-0. Koch therefore had a great match helping his side to win and keeping a clean sheet. This is the first time this season that Villa have been held to no goals.

Midfielder: Wilfried Zaha- Crystal Palace 6pts

Zaha just keeps impressing this season and had another great game for Crystal Palace who beat Fulham 2-1 away from home. Zaha got on the score sheet again and now has 5 goals already this season, fancy buying him? He is 8.5m.

Midfielder: Helder Costa -Leeds United 4pts

Helder Costa was inventive in midfield and lightning quick the whole game as Leeds beat Aston Villa 3-0, he also assisted in a goal and had a superb game all round.

Midfielder: Michail Antonio- West Ham 4pts

West Ham upset a lot of pundits as they held Manchester City to a 1-1 draw and it was that man Antonio who got on the score sheet once again, a very underrated player, could well be having his best season of his career.

Midfielder: James Ward-Prowse- Southampton 6pts

Southampton beat Everton 2-0 and James Ward-Prowse opened the scoring that started Everton’s downfall who were always going to be second best here. Ward-Prowse will be now hoping that this game can be a step into the right direction where he can get better and more consistent this season.

Striker: Patrick Bamford- Leeds United 14pts

Patrick Bamford was a super striker in the Championship, and now he has shown his qualities in the Premier League. Bamford scored a hat trick against Aston Villa which in itself was superb given that Villa were unbeaten going into that game. Bamford could be the real pick of this new season and the player has already scored 6 goals this season.

Striker: Jamie Vardy – Leicester 4pts

You just can’t rule the big man out can you? Jamie Vardy was actually not 100% for the game v Arsenal and didn’t come on until late in the 2nd half when the game was poised at 0-0. And then with 10 minutes to go he struck his 5th goal past Arsenal in four games. He’s like a fine wine and just keeps getting better with age.

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How Andrea Radrizzani brought a new era to Leeds United

In May of this year Andrea Radrizzani was celebrating being in charge of Leeds United for 3 years, and what a time it has been for the club and the Italian owner.

There have been highs and lows but compared to the past 14 years that preceded him coming in the last 36 months have mostly been bliss for the club and the fans. Winning the Championship and gaining promotion back to the Premier League, the first time in 16 years is obviously the highlight, but after a few possible naive mistakes all the cards are starting to fit for Radrizzani and the club.

Those mistakes were infuriating the fans when the club sold Ronaldo Vieira who looked like the most promising player that the club had on their books for some time. Then there was the controversial change of badge. Not many owners can mess with a clubs traditional badge and get away with it. And his plan fell short when over 77,000 fans signed a petition that they were less than impressed.

But compared to the good times at the club since he came in and then bought 100% of the shares the above feel like small stories. A few managers came and went until Leeds found their balance and then two key figures arrived and they would be head hunted by Radrizzani himself.

The first was bringing in Marcelo Bielsa the eccentric but brilliant and detailed coach. The Argentinian arriving at the club was seen as a big surprise, one would think if Bielsa was coming to England it would only be to manage in the Premier League. But Bielsa recognised quickly how the history of English football and Leeds were joined at the hip, history always counts in football. He also took it up as a challenge.

The second key in the puzzle was the signing of Patrick Bamford, the striker came in for £7m which was the most the club had spent on a player since Robbie Fowler in 2001. Bamford has been exceptional with the club scoring 29 goals in all competitions for them, including 16 league goals in the Championship. This season in the Premier League was his big step up and he has already scored 3 goals in just three games.

Leeds have started the season well too. With 2 wins from their opening three games, and even when they were defeated it was away to champions Liverpool in a 4-3 thriller. There is something about Leeds under Bielsa and with Radrizzani behind the scenes the club will be hoping to capture the beauty, toughness and essence of their glory days once again.

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Early Fantasy trends in the English Premier League

Between no fans, an explosion of offence, and a condensed offseason, there are some interesting early-season trends taking place in the English Premier League. We look at the ones impacting English Premier League fantasy football after the first three weeks of matches.

Highest Scoring Week Ever 

Week 2 of the 2020/21 Premier League season witnessed record scoring. The ten games combined for 44 goals in Matchday 2, topping the previous record of 43 goals set during the 2010/11 EPL season.

Matchday 3 saw offences continue to pour in goals, with five teams topping the three-goal mark, helping the week reach 29 goals with two games left to play on Monday.

Excluding Sheffield United, every single EPL team enters Monday, averaging at least one goal per match.

Clean sheets are challenging to come by early in the season, meaning a top-tier goaltender is more valuable than normal this early in the season. Everton’s keeper Jordan Pickford has been one of the few to shine early in the season.

Knowing whether record goals will continue to pour in is unpredictable. However, grabbing a quality keeper could help your team weather the storm if scoring continues in the EPL continues at a record pace.

Away Teams Dominate Early

Early in the EPL season, the term “playing the matchups” seems to have taken on a new aspect – and that is playing the away players.

Week 3 saw the first seven away teams get a result – after Newcastle scored at 90+7 to tie the Hotspurs and Leicester knocked in five goals against Man City to move atop the table. These outcomes make it three straight weeks where the away teams have looked superior – with 18 results in 26 games, compared to 10 results for home teams through as many games.

The lack of fans is the one glaring factor this season. Typically, a visit to Man City means a hostile environment. However, without any real fans in the stands, Jamie Vardy could just waltz his way to a hattrick in Matchday 3.

If you need to make a roster adjustment for the upcoming week, players on road clubs are outperforming home players early in the 2020/21 EPL season.

The Stars Scoring Early in the Season

Early draft predictions are looking pretty smart to start the EPL fantasy season, as top-rated players are lighting up the stat sheet. Mohamad Salah, Danny Ings, Jamie Vardy, and Son Heung-Min are off to strong starts, while Harry Kane has four helpers to lead the league early.

The strong starts from the stars coincide with the offensive explosive occurring early in the season. While the top guys should continue to produce throughout the year, some of the early season surprises – such as Neal Maupay and Patrick Bamford – may be worth shopping early with their value at an all-time high, especially if your team needs a keeper or defence.

“Manchester United Nani goal” by gordon2208 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Big Club Fantasy Disappointments so Buy Low

While some stars are producing early in the year, the big names on Man City, Man United, Arsenal, and Chelsea have yet to live up to expectations.

Both Manchester teams came into the year without much of an offseason. Still, Kevin De Bruyne – star of Man City – should not be outperformed by Jarrod Bowen on West Ham United.

The slow starts mean someone could be shopping one of these players for a low return. Even if Kevin De Bruyne is off to a slow start, he is still a fantasy stud. If you can survive his lower production now, you should see significant returns on your fantasy team later in the season.

Fantasy Trends and Soccer Betting

Much of the information above is useful for betting on soccer as well as playing EPL fantasy. Knowing that road teams are having early success and unusually high offensive production from just about every club can help you make better wagers.

Knowing where to bet is essential as well. The best Canadian sportsbooks for EPL odds offer a wide selection of quality markets on every single match.

Look for away underdogs and overs on the goal totals to offer the best soccer betting value as the 2020-21 EPL season heads into Matchday 4.