Why Redfearn should start this Leeds United player at Middlesbrough

Mirco Antenucci

Leeds United are coming up against the team with the meanest defence in the Championship.

Leeds United will need to be clinical in-front of goal this weekend as Championship leaders Middlesbrough currently boast the best defence record in England’s top four divisions.

The Whites head in to the clash in excellent form, winning four of their previous five games and in doing so climbing away from the relegation zone and safely in to midtable.

Boro, likewise, have been in excellent form and kept their impressive unbeaten league run in 2015 going after securing a 1-1 draw at Birmingham in midweek despite playing the entire second half with 10 men.

In order to break the Riverside outfit’s tight backline it will take both guile and good movement off the ball – traits which Neil Redfearn will need to take in to account when making his first-team selection.

Over the past month, the Whites have found success with striker Steve Morison leading the line. However, for all his positives, movement and goal scoring aren’t exactly his fortes.

As a result, perhaps it would be more prudent for Redfearn to really attack what could be a tired Boro defence and opt for the renowned prowess of striker Mirco Antenucci.

The Italian ace has not started a Leeds match since being selected for the 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham almost four weeks ago, but his attacking abilities are evident.

  Goals per GameShots per GameKey Passes per GameDribbles Completed per GameBall Recoveries per GameAppearancesMins Played
Mirco Antenucci 0.32 2.8 0.72 0.6 3.08 25 1,989
Steve Morison 0 1.86 1 0.21 0.71 14 834

As per the table provided by Opta Stats, the 30-year-old offers far more of an attacking threat than Morison illustrated by his higher number of shots and goals on average per game.

One area where Leeds’ Welsh striker comes out on top is in the average number of chances created via key passes per match, however he is alarmingly yet to find the net in 14 Championship appearances.

Aside from his goals, Antenucci has more movement up top and is far more willing to harry defenders and stop teams building from the back, demonstrated by his average 3.08 ball recoveries per match.

Against a Boro team who like to dominate possession at the Riverside and patiently build from the back, Leeds boss Redfearn can’t afford to allow the hosts to build up a head of steam.

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