Football News

Stuart Dallas: Why Man Utd should be wary of Leeds’ ‘Javier Zanetti’ ahead of Roses rivalry

By Ben Green

Published: 16:40, 20 April 2021

The latest Roses rivalry takes place this weekend and Leeds stalwart Stuart Dallas will be looking to net in his third consecutive Premier League game against a Manchester club.

Leeds United and Manchester United converge on Elland Road this Sunday and Dallas will be aiming to replicate his exploits from the Etihad earlier this month, and Old Trafford back in December, with the Northern Irishman netting in both fixtures.

Dallas, 30, recently bagged an emphatic brace to sink champions-elect Man City 2-1, while he also notched a consolation goal in Man Utd’s 6-2 demolition of the club during the festive period. Now, attention turns to West Yorkshire.

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Should Dallas find the back of the net then he will become the first Leeds United player to score in three successive games against the Manchester clubs in a single season since Peter Lorimer in 1971/72, who hit the onion bag in all four fixtures nearly 50 years ago.

And while goals have not necessarily underpinned the impressive performances of Dallas this season, it’s a facet of his game that has improved exponentially under Marcelo Bielsa, with this being his most productive league campaign in front of goal since his Crusaders days in the Irish Premiership.

Dallas’ seven strikes has be bettered only by top goalscorer Patrick Bamford (14) among Leeds player in the top flight this campaign, while he has also added a further two assists to truly cast a spotlight on his newfound attacking verve.

But, it’s not his prolific form that makes Dallas such a unique and indispensable player in Bielsa’s system. Instead, the enigmatic Argentine has highlighted his versatility as the key trait in his footballing repertoire, likening the midfield workhorse to one illustrious former player.

“Yes, I had a player like this,” Bielsa told reporters in his pre-Liverpool press conference when quizzed on if he’s ever worked with a player as tactically diverse as Dallas.

“For example, Javier Zanetti also Julio Saldana when I first managed at Newell’s in my first experience. Those two players are very like Dallas in terms of their versatility.”

He continued: “He’s a very potent, powerful player.

“He can play with either foot, with his right or his left. He’s good at defending.

“He has the capacity to combine as well as make runs which allows him to flourish in the middle.

“And he has a change of rhythm and surprise when he attacks. It’s very difficult to find all of that in just one player.”

On top of being Leeds’ second-highest scorer this term, Dallas also ranks first for most possessions won in the middle third (102) as well as second for tackles (68) and most possessions won in the defensive third (113), highlighting the full breadth of his footballing palette.