Mateusz Klich has told Leeds United’s website that Tuesday’s opponents Southampton have a similar style of play and warned teammates not to concede fouls around the box – due to James Ward-Prowse’s set-piece ability.
Ward-Prowse, 26, is currently wearing the armband for Southampton after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg left the club to join Tottenham last summer. This season, the England midfielder surpassed 300 appearances for the Saints.
He has had a hand in 11 goals in his 28 league and cup outings this term, with four of his five Premier League goals coming from free-kicks. Without Kalvin Phillips, Leeds will have their hands full when it comes to Ward-Prowse.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s clash at Elland Road, Klich was full of praise for the midfielder he is likely to come up against – in a match that sees 12th place take on 13th. England also take on Poland in March.
“They were unbelievable [in the opening few months of the season],” Klich said. “They play really good football, ball possession, aggressive, they run a lot as well.
“To be fair, they play very similarly to us, although they score more free-kicks. We know we have to make sure we don’t kick anyone around the edge of the box, because it’s basically a penalty for James Ward-Prowse.”
TBR’s view – Klich is right, Leeds must be careful
Having a player that is that good from free-kicks puts the opposition on edge. It makes them tentative when it comes to putting in a tackle on the edge of the area given Ward-Prowse’s quality. Leeds have got to be careful.
They might get away with one, but conceding two within 22 yards in a central position and Ward-Prowse is likely to make Leeds punish. Klich will have to take on the mantle of marking Ward-Prowse, and be extra careful.