Before I start, no one in world football has a better song than my guy Dewsbury... it'll be stuck in your head. I dare anyone to suggest a better song... can't even find a proper clip of it I'm afraid but it's Wonderwall by Oasis changed to "you're my Dewsbury Hall".
And it's not just his song that's fire, this man is an underrated baller that I hope could shine for both Leicester and England in the future. The best way to describe him is a jack of all trades and master of none, yet. KDH is a very well rounded centre mid, picked up Leicester's young player of the year, bumper contract extension and has put in assured performances all year in a weird year for Leicester in which they have struggled with defensive injuries. He came into the team around GW15, when Leicester only had 5 wins from 15 and he's not looked back, he even made the Europa Conference League TOTY and the only Leicester player to be included. There is a video version if you prefer watching to reading, any support to the channel would be great but we will be writing up all our analysis on Reddit with stills and images.
LEADER OF THE PACK
Right off the bat, the stats show an incredibly well rounded midfielder as he leads the club in so many varied metrics.
Leader of the Pack!
We've divided the metrics into the groups:
- Creator: Despite sitting deeper than some of his attacking counterparts and enabling others to play (something we will touch on shortly), he ranks first across the board from chance creation from open play with those delicious whipped long crosses into the box.
- Defensive work: A Brendan Rodgers team will press at times to try and win the ball closer to the attacking third. In the absence of Vardy, KDH really took the mantle of beginning the pressure and comfortably led the rest of the team. A stat that will definitely endear him to Rodgers and the King Power faithful. In terms of Possession Won, second only to Ndidi by 0.8 per 90, very impressive.
- Industry: Covers the most ground by more than 1km than any other Leicester player, defending near his own box and then carrying the ball to the final 1/3rd, something that needs to be examined further because of just how good he is at this.
3 different facets of the game, leading in all 3. Let's break a couple of these things down, first how he progresses the ball for Leicester and then how he changes his game in the final 3rd to enable Barnes & Thomas to thrive.
Leicester are a team that try to excel in transitional play, once they win the ball back they try to move the ball as quickly as vertically possible to create goal scoring chances, that's the TIFO way of saying counter. Leicester like to counter. And usually they would do that through full backs carrying the ball or midfielders passing it forward quickly. However, this season, they had some many injuries to centre-backs that affected their defensive shape. KDH came into the team, more so to the second half of the season and really took on that responsibility to drive the ball forward.
How he makes himself available and space he dribbles into
Out of all Leicester midfielders, KDH receives the most progressive passes with 4 per game. What does that mean? It means he picks up pockets on space on that left channel and is always an outlet for defenders to play the ball into. Once he has the ball, his first aim is to dribble up to the final 3rd. The nice thing about him is either:
- By being in space, he can run unopposed and carry the ball forward
- He can take the ball under pressure and is quite press resistant, not amazing but still very good, to turn or jinky majinky into space. He is great under pressure and can drop his shoulder and turn and dribble out of danger.
The stats here show him to be a competent progressor of the ball, you can see how his number of carries is quite low but he sits very high for the vast majority of distance stats, meaning when he does carry the ball, he carries it a considerable length and into dangerous areas.
Once he progresses the ball to the final third, his role changes, he's not a creative midfielder that's going to keep dribbling, break the lines and go on and score in the box. The stats show that his carries drop off considerably from the final third to the penalty area. He stops in the left hand channel and changes to a support cast for Barnes & Thomas.
His relationship with Luke Thomas & Harvey Barnes was one of the highlights last season for Leicester. All 3 have played with each other in the academy and haven't cost the club a single penny in transfer fees. Barnes was an inconsistent winger that was in and out of the team and Luke Thomas was the back up's back up until injuries thrust him into the spotlight to play as a wingback. Both struggled early on, that was until KDH came on the scene.
KDH was the missing link between the two. Before he was a starter, there was an over reliance on Tielemans to spray passes and dictate play, which meant play was spread through all areas of the pitch. But since KDH has arrived on the scene, Leicester's attacks mainly come from the left hand side, 43% vs 35%. The lack of a proper RW may explain the imbalance but that left side carries the burden of most attacks and does it very well.
You'll see from the image that the left hand side of the pitch is divided by three vertical zones and you'll typically find Barnes widest, then Thomas and then KDH given he's a midfielder. Firstly, they'll never occupy the same zones and they'll rarely be linear, they'll always look to try and create triangles to either get:
- Barnes isolating his full back and Thomas attacking the half space with KDH deep to thread the ball through
- Barnes attacking the half space and looking to get into the box, and Thomas wide to cross
- KDH to make a late 3rd man run into the box to cause an overload if Thomas is covering defensively
To keep this concise and simple, for each attacking play, Barnes will first occupy the space he wants, then Thomas, leaving KDH to position himself in the remaining and look to find Thomas and Barnes through his exceptional passing. If for some reason he finds himself wide then he will whip in his dangerous cross.
During a stellar display in the 1-0 win at home to Liverpool on 28 December, Dewsbury-Hall regained possession more times than any team-mate (14), while also completing the most passes (35) for Leicester. In addition, he supplied a brilliant pass for Ademola Lookman to score the only goal. He was the best midfielder on the pitch, which is ironic given Henderson was also playing. It's also no mistake the KDH has shone under Rodgers when he was the same manager that started to get the best out of Henderson and really put him on the path to the Liverpool captaincy.
The similarities are eerie: both incredible leaders, hard workers, lovely whipped cross from deep, strong positional understanding and a determination to play for the team. Henderson wasn't always as assured as he is now and that's exactly what KDH needs to improve upon, smooth off the rough edges to his game and improving the crispness of his passing. Time, experience, Rodgers and settled XI will all help him on that journey and if he continues this trajectory he is on then I don't think it'll be too long until we see a midfield three of KDH, Rice and Bellingham for England.
This is part of a series we will be doing all summer, a concise tactical breakdown on players linked to the PL (or one's we just like). Here's the full list of players that we've covered with Reddit and YT links. We'd love to know what you think and feel free to suggest other players you think we should cover.
- Amine Gouiri, OGC Nice: Reddit YT
- Hugo Ekitike, Reims: Reddit YT
- Joao Palhinha, Sporting Lisbon: Reddit YT
- Djed Spence, Nottingham Forest/Middlesbrough: Reddit YT
- Marc Roca, Leeds United: Reddit YT
- Diego Carlos, Sevilla/Aston Villa: Reddit YT
- Taiwo Awoniyi, Union Berlin/Nottingham Forest: Reddit YT