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Premier League highlights: Bielsa’s Leeds entertaining but struggling

Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United are struggling despite their attractive style. And what happened to the classic derby games?

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After yet another exciting match week in the 2020/2021 English Premier League season, we highlight some of the major talking points that emerged from the fixtures.

Tottenham Hotspurs and Liverpool are still first and second in the Premier League respectively, although they failed to secure wins in their games, while Chelsea make room for Southampton in third place after suffering their second defeat in the Premier this season at Goodison Park.

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Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United also feature in the talking points after they lost their second consecutive game within a week to a spirited West Ham United side.

And there is also an intriguing development in big games in the Premier League this season, with managers now opting to go with a more cautious approach.

Here are the talking points!

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Talking points from the Premier League

Leeds United: What now?

The quality of football that Bielsa’s side plays is almost unrivalled by any other club in the Premier League and arguably across the whole of Europe. It is a reputation that has made the Leeds boss revered and admired by the likes of Pep Guardiola who are fanatics of Tiki-Taka and high-intensity football.

But unfortunately, the classic performances have not been accompanied by good results recently, as Marcelo Bielsa has had to watch his side lose twice in the space of a week to Chelsea and West Ham.

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The major concern, of course, is how his side are conceding from set pieces this season. They unsurprisingly conceded two goals from set pieces against West Ham United after conceding one in their previous game against Chelsea.

Premier league matchweek 12 -The Konversation
Leeds United conceded from another set piece against West Ham

Leeds now lie 14th in the table after 12 weeks and Bielsa will hope that their entertaining football will help them secure results sooner and move far away from the relegation zone.

A reality check for Chelsea?

After going 17 games unbeaten across all competitions this season , Chelsea were being added to the conversation of potential Premier League winners.  But after suffering a setback against Everton on Saturday, there might be the need to consider that this Chelsea side is still a team in progression.

There is no doubt about the quality of performances the Chelsea side have produced this season, but against Everton almost all the players had an off day.

With the exception of Reece James who posed a lot of attacking threat from the right hand side in addition to discharging his defensive duties, there was nothing positive about Chelsea’s performance. Even the much hailed Edouard Mendy was at fault as he conceded a penalty for Everton’s only goal.

Premier league matchweek 12 -The Konversation
Frank Lampard was clearly not happy with the performance of his players

Olivier Giroud  was completely out of the game while Kai Havertz was virtually a passenger before his prolonged substitution.

Perhaps the injuries of Ziyech, Pulisic and Odoi might have affected the team on Saturday, but the loss offers some insight that the Blues are not yet up there with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.

Big games now about cancelling out?

There is a new trend emerging this season in the so called big games. The trend of teams playing an all attacking game and producing spectacular moments in derbies and rival games seems to be lost this season. And the Manchester derby typifies the claim perfectly.

Both Guardiola and Solskjaer continued with their two defensive midfielders in the derby with Guardiola going with Fernandinho and Rodri while McTominay and Fred were picked by Ole once more.

But even more interesting was how both teams were intent on being cautious and cancelling out each other rather than going all out for a win. The conservative tactic by both managers saw the neutralization of threats from both Bruno Fernandes and Kevin de Bruyne who were tipped to run the show.

Premier league matchweek 12 -The Konversation
Manchester City and Manchester United cancelled each other out

Solskjaer had earlier on in the season deployed a similar tactic against Chelsea with the aim of neutralizing Chelsea’s front three while Lampard also used a similar approach to nullify the counter attacking threats of Marcus Rashford and Fernandes.

The London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspurs also epitomizes the claim. Frank Lampard knew the threat that the partnership of Kane and Son would pose to his side and thus focused on neutralizing at the compromise of allowing his forward men to operate freely.

It is an emerging trend and while it might make the big games unclassical and boring the managers certainly understand how unforgiving the Premier League can be and would do everything possible to get the very smallest of points.

Spurs and Liverpool want to take Chelsea along

Tottenham Hotspurs and Liverpool had a massive opportunity to increase their lead at the top of the Premier League table after Chelsea were defeated at Goodison park, but both clubs failed to do so.

Tottenham Hotspurs parked the bus during the second half of the game after securing the first goal, giving Crystal Palace the freedom to persistently attack them. Palace were rewarded in the closing stages of the game as  Jeffrey Schlupp converted from a free kick by Eze which was initially parried away by Hugo Lloris.

Premier league matchweek 12 -The Konversation
Spurs concede a late goal against Crystal Palace

Liverpool on the other hand probably faced their toughest first half this season as Fulham came out breathing fire and playing some front foot football. Scott Parker’s men could have scored at least three goals but they could only convert one out of the lot.

Fortunately for Liverpool, they came in stronger in the second half and secured a point at Craven Cottage just like Tottenham Hotspurs did at Selhurst Park.

So with an opportunity to go clear of Chelsea, Spurs and Liverpool seemed to be saying to the Blues, “We want to take you along.” A missed opportunity, definitely.

Premier League results 

Below are the results from Match week 12 of the 2020/2021 English Premier League season.

[table id=3 /]

 

 

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