Swansea City 2-2 Leeds United Six Things: below-par Whites fight back

Is there a more complete striker in the Championship than Oliver McBurnie? – bbc.co.uk

Swansea City and Leeds United continued their unbeaten starts to the Championship campaign with a 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday night.

Superbly structured Swansea

When Swansea drew 0-0 at Birmingham on Friday night, they were often caught trying to play out from the back. The question here was whether they would stay true to their philosophy against potentially more dangerous opposition, or shut up shop: the answer? A cleverly-balanced plan that lay somewhere in between. They pressed with a middle-block in a controlled, intelligent manner; although they didn’t attempt as many tackles – 21 to 31 (WhoScored) – a far higher proportion of their challenges were successful – 76% to 58%. This shows that while Leeds tried rash tackles without the same tactical awareness they showed in the first three games, Swansea were far better structured out of possession and they deservedly led through Oliver McBurnie’s toe-pocked effort on 24 minutes.

Mixed night for Shackleton

Leeds might have been able to break down Swansea if their full-backs were as effective in possession as they were in the first three games, but there were two problems. Firstly, Barry Douglas was unrecognizable. Secondly, Liam Cooper was forced off through injury in the warm-up, forcing Luke Ayling to centre-back, thus Jamie Shackleton come in at right-back at the eleventh hour. The 18-year-old lacked Ayling’s assurance in possession to pick out positive, forward passes when Barrie McKay pressed him in his own half and that saw Leeds’ early build-up play stagnate slightly. To give Shackleton his due, however, when he was given opportunities to run in the final third, he showed Martin Olsson a clean pair of heals and on 40 minutes, he found an end product, drilling across for Kemar Roofe to tap home for the equalizer.

Brilliant McBurnie

There are certain things about Oliver McBurnie that reminds one of your classic centre-forward: the number nine shirt, his height at 6’2″, his reasonable frame and his aerial ability, proving the latter by putting Swansea in front early in the second half with a distanced header. And yet, there is also something about McBurnie that ticks plenty of boxes required for the modern forward; he works tirelessly, he willingly creates space for more individualistic players like McKay and Bersant Celina and is comfortable in more than one position. At different times, we have seen him not only in the box, but also in the number 10 position, out on the right and even defending his own box. Is there a more complete striker in the Championship right now than McBurnie?

Bamford-inspired resurgence

Marcelo Bielsa is decisive in every aspect of his management and with substitutions, it’s no different: Lewis Baker and Jack Harrison had entered the fray before the second half kicked-off but it was the introduction of Patrick Bamford that changed the game. The ex-Boro man pressed with more enthusiasm than Roofe had and set up the game’s final goal with a bright run down the left channel, before Hernandez lit up a below-par display by tapping home at the back-post. Either side could have won it late on:┬áCelina was denied by Bailey Peacock-Farrell while Bamford saw appeal for a penalty waved away. The West Yorkshire outfit would have been fortunate to have won but their late surge shows that under Bielsa, even when not at their best, they will not go quietly in any game this season.

Bielsa’s food for thought

For Leeds, this match is a reality-check. They had been dominant in every game they had played up until tonight, barring perhaps the first half against Rotherham. The Whites have had a wonderful start but if they are to get promoted this season, they will not have things all their own way in every game: even last season’s title-winners Wolves were comfortably defeated at Fulham and Aston Villa. What counts is how they respond and, in Saturday’s trip to Norwich, Bielsa might have to make a few changes to ensure his side is fresh enough to play at the intensity he demands. We can expect the Argentine to make the right call.

Swans’ best display?

From Leeds worst performance of the season to arguably Swansea’s best. Early victories over Sheffield United and Preston weren’t undeserved but they had to withstand long spells of pressure against both teams, and even longer spells at Birmingham. After a summer of cost-cutting and youth-based recruitment that suggests the club is planning for the long-term, fans needed reasons to believe the club can compete in the here and now. Tonight’s performance should offer an element of reassurance.