Brighton should use these rarely used tactics to gain upper hand at Leeds

Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter may tweak his style at Leeds this SaturdayBrighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter may tweak his style at Leeds this Saturday
Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Graham Potter may tweak his style at Leeds this Saturday
Graham Potter should consider a shift in tactical approach ahead of Albion’s clash with Leeds United on Saturday, and operate with a defence-first mentality.

The newly promoted Yorkshire club sits comfortably in 12th spot and owes much of its success to Marcelo Bielsa’s unremitting style of play. His ‘murder-ball’ philosophy seeks to smother the opposition, retain possession high up the pitch, and punish teams on the counterattack.

So far in the Premier League, their daring and innovative approach has resulted in a large number of open affairs: Bielsa’s troops have participated in seven five-goal thrillers in 18 games, and no team has scored more goals than Leeds in the last six matches (14).

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It goes without saying that Leeds’ relentlessness requires extremely high levels of fitness, and most of Bielsa’s conventional first team players were rested in the humbling 3-0 loss to Crawley Town in the FA Cup last weekend.

Fully rested, and no doubt eager to avenge their third-round defeat, Leeds will likely outrun Brighton on Saturday, if Potter tries to play Bielsa at his own game.

Leeds’ talisman Patrick Bamford leads the league for total shots (65), shots on target (28) and shots in the box (57) so far this season, which indicates how crucial he is to Bielsa’s attack, especially when given of room inside the box with which to operate.

However, fortunately for Brighton, Bamford and Leeds have struggled to score in bunches against teams with a back five, a formation consistently deployed by Potter in the Premier League.

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By using an extra centre back to limit space in the penalty area, Wolves and West Ham were able to defeat Leeds at Elland Road earlier in the season, winning 0-1 and 1-2 respectively, in tight yet controlled affairs.

Therefore, although Potter has previously sided towards a possession-based brand of football, he may be tempted to play a deep block at Elland Road, and look to hurt Leeds on the break instead.

If Brighton choose to absorb pressure and force Leeds into creating chances with a restricted amount of room in behind, Potter will rely heavily on the leadership of Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster to organise the defence, and will welcome the return of holding midfielder Yves Bissouma, who missed out against Manchester City with a one-match suspension.

Both standing at over 6ft 3in tall, Dunk and Webster also pose an aerial threat from set-pieces, which could prove useful in a closely fought contest.

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Bielsa’s rather undersized squad has struggled to defend set pieces so far this season, and Dunk was arguably Brighton’s most dangerous player at Rodney Parade last weekend, forcing a number of smart saves from Newport County keeper Tom King.

In attack, the speed and dynamism of Percy Tau, who was recalled from Anderlecht earlier this month, could prove fruitful in this system, acting as a threatening outlet for Albion on the counterattack.

After their clash with Leeds, Brighton play Blackpool in the FA Cup before hosting a crucial six-pointer against Fulham.

With only a place separating the Seagulls and the Cottagers in the table, it’s important Brighton begin building momentum, starting with a win at Leeds on Saturday.