Jesse Marsch got his Leeds United reign underway with a narrow 1-0 away defeat in the Premier League against Leicester City on Saturday afternoon.
Newly-appointed Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch got off to a losing start as the much-improved Whites fell to a 1-0 defeat away to Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday, with a 67th minute Harvey Barnes goal proving to be the difference.
The first half was entertaining to watch, with both teams efficiently counter-attacking. Leeds looked like a different side than the one that was humiliated by Tottenham last weekend, and arguably, they just edged the hosts in terms of the frequency of chances.
They looked a much more cohesive and solid outfit and threatened going forward, but some poor finishing and fine shot-stopping from Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel kept them from scoring. Jack Harrison failed to finish off a lightning-quick move, while Rodrigo blasted over unmarked from the outside of the box. Raphinha was also denied from inside the six-yard box in the second half.
The visitors were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of the goal when Harvey Barnes broke the deadlock against the run of play halfway into the second period after a quick interchange with Kelechi Iheanacho, which eventually proved to be the winning goal.
The defeat means Leeds remain in 16th place in the Premier League table, only two points above the relegation zone. Meanwhile, Leicester City are currently sitting 12th – tied on 33 points alongside Aston Villa, Brighton and Crystal Palace, but with games in hand over all those teams.
Kasper Schmeichel: 7/10
Schmeichel has often come under criticism for his erratic displays this season, but this was a captain’s performance from the Danish international. He made a stunning save with his feet in the opening exchanges and was strong in the air to claim the ball early. He kept the home side in the game with a series of good saves.
Kasper Schmeichel's game by numbers vs. Leeds:
100% aerial duels won
12 ball recoveries
6 long passes completed
4 crosses caught
3 possessions won in the defensive third
4 massive saves to keep Leeds at bay. ? pic.twitter.com/MLAXHrHjOf
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 5, 2022
Hamza Choudhury: 6/10
It was a decent display from Choudhury as he was once again deployed in an unfamiliar centre-back role. Did not really get forward to support Albrighton, but never looked uncomfortable in a defensive sense.
Daniel Amartey: 6/10
Amartey was decent in the air and got involved in defensive actions well enough. He threw his body on the line to get blocks in throughout the game and made some vital clearances. But his passing was not up to mark as he looked uncomfortable in possession.
Caglar Soyuncu: 7/10
After a shaky start, Soyuncu grew into the game and proved to be a rock in front of Schmeichel as he made several crucial blocks, including the one to stop Junior Firpo’s goal-bound shot. He was also dominant in the air and finished the match with more tackles (6) and clearances (6) than anyone on the pitch.
Marc Albrighton: 6/10
Usually a very reliable operator, Albrighton did not have a good game on Saturday by any means. He always looked troubled and made uncharacteristic errors by giving the ball away cheaply a fair few times. He could not offer much offensively either, but his work rate was never in doubt throughout the game as he helped out Choudhury on multiple occasions.
Wilfred Ndidi: 6.5/10
As expected, Ndidi broke up the opposition’s play effectively and made a few crucial tackles. The disappointing thing was his hesitation to progress up the pitch more regularly despite Leeds allowing him far too much space during the match. He became more involved in the game as Leicester attempted to control the midfield battle, before being replaced by Nampalys Mendy in the second half.
Youri Tielemans: 6.5/10
Tielemans showed great energy and anticipation to halt Leeds’ turnovers a couple of times in the opening 45. He went on a few runs but lost the ball surging forward as the Leeds player were vigilant to the threat he provided. The Belgian playmaker was also a bit sloppy on the ball and did not contribute anything noteworthy in an attacking sense, but performed his defensive duties diligently.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall: 7/10
??????? Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall completed more attacking third passes (19/23), won more ground duels (8/14) and suffered more fouls (3) than any other player in the Leicester City vs Leeds United game.
Fantastic. #LEILEE #LCFC pic.twitter.com/e5QkgFajqn
— Mozo Football (@MozoFootball) March 5, 2022
Dewsbury-Hall displayed bundles of energy going forward, and was also industrious from a defensive point of view. He made some strong runs to support Vardy and Iheanacho up front and progressed up the pitch with the ball to alleviate pressure on his defence. His close control in tight spaces and precise passes were also a joy to watch.
Luke Thomas: 6/10
Normally quite steady, Thomas struggled here and made multiple mistakes. He was caught off guard in the first half, handing Leeds a decent scoring opportunity. On a more positive note, he continued to combine effectively with Dewsbury-Hall and Barnes moving forward and read the danger while defending high up the pitch.
Jamie Vardy: 6/10
The Foxes sorely missed Vardy’s pace, aggression and prolific nature in recent months, and his return was a welcome boost. Though he got into good positions and provided Leicester City with a focal point upfront, it will take him some time to get up to speed.
Harvey Barnes: 8/10
Harvey Barnes' game by numbers vs. Leeds:
89% pass accuracy
14 passes in the final third
5 duels won
5 touches in the opp. box
4 take-ons completed (=most)
4 shots (=most)
4 possessions won
2 shots on target (most)
The difference-maker. ? pic.twitter.com/myCjd0isd1
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 5, 2022
Barnes was virtually unstoppable on the day as he caused Leeds all sorts of problems down the left with his dangerous runs in behind. Some strong running was followed by a complex one-two pass with Kelechi Iheanacho before he slid the ball past Illan Meslier to put Leicester 1-0 ahead. He completed more dribbles (4) and more shots on target (2) than anyone on the field.
Ademola Lookman: 6.5/10
Lookman’s introduction added some energy down the flanks, as his pace and trickery caused difficulties for the Leeds backline.
Kelechi Iheanacho: 7/10
Iheanacho made an immediate impact by setting up Barnes for the only goal of the game and was very much involved in everything else, in an attacking sense.
Nampalys Mendy: 6/10
Mendy’s first appearance since an impressive AFCON tournament. He tidied up nicely in front of the backline and was positionally clever to clear several threats.
Jesse Marsch at final whistle beckons substitutes onto field to huddle with rest of team in center of field. The core of his philosophy is about building spirit of the collective. Lot of positives in defeat today. Changes must lead to points. Villa and Norwich next ??⚪️ pic.twitter.com/oWHVm2DIf3
— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) March 5, 2022
Illan Meslier: 6/10
Meslier had little to do in goal for Leeds throughout the game and looked at ease after a couple of shaky moments in his box at the start. The Frenchman could not have done much to stop Harvey Barnes’s opener, while his distribution was also decent.
Stuart Dallas: 6/10
Dallas was decent going forward and proved to be a real asset in counter-attacking situations. But Barnes gave him a run for his money at times. To be fair, the utility man recovered from that to put up a solid display.
Luke Ayling: 6/10
Ayling does not have the build for a centre-back role, let alone at the heart of a back-four. But he kept Jamie Vardy under his watch and did not really give the speedster much of a sniff at goal. Still, he looked much more natural when driving up and down the right flank.
Pascal Struijk: 6/10
It was a rough start to the game for Struijk as he looked sluggish. He was outpaced by Vardy on one occasion, picking up a yellow card for his eventual foul. But he really asserted himself as the game went on and helped the Whites play out from the back.
Junior Firpo: 7.5/10
Firpo had a brilliant game today
— LD (@lddare97) March 5, 2022
Probably one of the better displays from Firpo since arriving in the summer as he looked great going forward with his overlapping runs and popped up in promising areas. His movement was very sharp, while he was defensively solid as well. He kept Leicester City’s attackers pinned down more often than not. The ex-Barcelona star could be a real asset for the Whites in the coming games.
Robin Koch: 6/10
With Adam Forshaw on the bench due to a minor knock, Koch was once again deployed in a deep-lying midfield role and he performed well enough here. He kept things stable in front of the backline and recycled possession well.
Mateusz Klich: 6/10
Klich looked solid rather than flashy and finished with a team-high five tackles, which was exactly what Leeds needed after recent weeks. That said, Leeds relied largely on passing in tight areas, and he was a stumbling block every time the visitors tried to break forward. He was also slow in closing down the opposing midfielders at times and did not influence the game going forward as much as he would have liked to.
Another pretty poor display from the Brazilian attacker. He did not make the best use of his promising runs and lost possession quite often. He showcased bits of quality to bring Leeds up the field, but lacked composure in moments that mattered the most as he missed an absolute sitter in the second half.
Raphinha ? pic.twitter.com/hJmhpw8dFT
— Gazza2000 (@FPL_Gazza2000) March 5, 2022
Jack Harrison: 7/10
After looking out of sorts in recent weeks, it was a much better display from Harrison. His work ethic was admirable, while he looked sharp in possession to play a match-high four key passes. He was a threat down the channel with his runs in behind and crossed the ball across the face of the goal at every opportunity. He was denied a goal by a decent save from Kasper Schmeichel.
Daniel James: 6.5/10
James flourished in Marsch’s system as he kept interchanging his position to hassle the hosts and got into great positions. But he failed to put away his chances when they fell to him and lacked composure and decision-making in the final third.
Rodrigo Moreno: 6.5/10
Leeds benefited from his passing combinations, but he should have done better with some chances that fell his way. The Spaniard thrived in a new role, but like his teammates, he was lacking that finishing touch or that final pass in the attacking third. He offered front-foot pressing and played his role out of possession.
Joe Gelhardt: 6.5/10
Gelhardt looked very bright from the outset, came close to scoring with his first touch, but faded away as the hosts took control in the latter stages of the match.
Adam Forshaw: 5/10
Forshaw was tidy in possession, ran about the pitch and recycled the ball well after coming on for Klich with 20 minutes remaining on the clock.
Tyler Roberts: N/A
Struggled through the majority of his cameo with a hamstring issue.
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