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In Focus: Leeds are on the Marsch under Jesse
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Cian Cheesbrough
Jesse Marsch earned plaudits for his game plan in Leeds' win over Chelsea
Jesse Marsch earned plaudits for his game plan in Leeds' win over Chelsea

After narrowly escaping relegation last term, Leeds have been one of the standout teams of the 2022-23 Premier League campaign so far.

Jesse Marsch’s men claimed a stunning 3-0 win over Chelsea last Sunday to make it seven points from their first nine available.

Following another home victory on Wednesday, this time against Barnsley in the Carabao Cup second round, we look at how the Whites' American coach has masterminded their excellent start.

Meticulous planner

While a win and a draw against Wolves and Southampton represented a strong enough start, their display against the Blues was undoubtedly Leeds' most complete.

Edouard Mendy’s mistake for Brenden Aaronson’s opener was a result of the Whites’ intense pressing and the tone for them to overwhelm the Blues was set from that moment on.

Rodrigo’s header moments later sent Elland Road into pandemonium before Jack Harrison’s second-half finish put the hosts out of sight.

And while the game may have appeared chaotic at times, goalscorer Harrison revealed the display was actually the result of a meticulous plan set out by Marsch.

The 25-year-old attacker said: "We conducted a good tactical plan from Jesse.

"Right from the start, we knew how important it was to come out strong and ruthless. Everyone was on the same page and we managed to do that in the first half.

"It was a credit to the tactics and the production from the team.

"We set the tone and we have to try and aim for that performance every week now. It’s hard and difficult, but we have something to aim for and hopefully we can go further, that’s motivation for us."

Leeds are unbeaten in their first three Premier League games of 2022-23
Leeds are unbeaten in their first three Premier League games of 2022-23

Marsch's mark

Of course, a Leeds team who thrive off out-running and out-working their opposition is nothing new.

That was their blueprint under previous boss Marcelo Bielsa, who ended their 16-year exile from the Premier League before helping them to a ninth-place finish in 2020-21.

A disastrous run of form last term saw them part ways with the visionary South American in February as relegation loomed.

And while replacement Marsch kept many of those hard-working principles, other changes were made to make them more suited to the fight for survival they were in.

On his arrival in West Yorkshire, Marsch said: "At the start, Andrea [Radrizzani, the majority shareholder at Leeds] asked me how quickly I could transform the team from the way Marcelo played into the way I wanted to play.

"I wasn't totally sure, because I'd never taken over a team so deeply ingrained in a specific style to what I wanted. 

“But I think we did well. It wasn't just the style of play, but also the stress of the relegation situation. 

"It meant we had to free the players to commit intellectually, physically and emotionally to what we needed to become."

With safety narrowly secured, Leeds have started this season with more freedom and chants of Marsch's name from the Elland Road stands are a sign he is stepping out of his popular predecessor's shadow.

Dealing with departures

Jesse Marsch has brought a number of new faces to Elland Road this summer
Jesse Marsch has brought a number of new faces to Elland Road this summer

With this summer being Marsch's first chance to have a full pre-season to implement his style, departures of two key players created a far from ideal situation.

England international midfielder Kalvin Phillips was the first to wave goodbye to his boyhood club and join Manchester City for £42million.

A fortnight later, Raphinha — one of the goalscorers in their 2-1 win over Brentford to secure survival on the final day — left for Barcelona in a £55m deal.

That had many fearing for Leeds and Marsch for the 2022-23 campaign but instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they embarked on a busy summer of incomings.

Aaronson’s arrival from FC Salzburg has freshened up Leeds’ approach in the final third, with winger Luis Sinisterra from Feyenoord also looking to be a promising addition.

Meanwhile, Tyler Adams and Marc Roca have joined from Bundesliga outfits RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich respectively to fill the void left by Phillips in midfield with Rasmus Kristensen slotting in at right-back.

While unproven in English football, many of the new recruits have worked with Marsch previously and the former Salzburg and Leipzig boss looks to have eased the transition of settling into Leeds’ new-look team.

Ready to Marsch on

Rodrigo has been a revelation under Jesse Marsch this term
Rodrigo has been a revelation under Jesse Marsch this term

But it is perhaps the faces who remained from last season who have earned most of the plaudits so far this term.

Brazil-born forward Rodrigo has four goals and an assist in his first three outings, while winger Harrison has claimed three assists and found the net once.

With those talents finding consistency and new signings making an instant impact, they look a team who will fancy their chances against any opposition.

Former Premier League midfielder Owen Hargreaves said: "You think about the two best players in the league so far, obviously Gabriel Jesus and Rodrigo at the top of the pitch. 

"So, all of a sudden you’ve got Harrison, Daniel James and Aaronson in the hole, your new midfielders Roca and Tyler Adams. They’re well set-up to have a go. 

"Credit to Jesse Marsch, he’s done an amazing job turning that team into something really interesting."

If their start is anything to go by, Leeds may just find themselves looking up the table rather than over their shoulders this season.

A tricky trip to Graham Potter's Brighton provides Marsch with the chance to once again exhibit his tactical nous in their next Premier League outing before fixtures against Everton, Brentford and Nottingham Forest.

By the time they visit old foes Manchester United on September 18, the Elland Road club could well be ready to give the Red Devils a stern test — a tantalising prospect for a passionate fan base enjoying Marsch's American revolution.


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