Adam Lewis at Amiens 2020/21 – scout report
Liverpool academy product Adam Lewis joined Ligue 2 side Amiens on loan for the 2020/21 season this past summer following the French club’s relegation from Ligue 1 last term and so far this season, the left-back, who turned 21 earlier this month, has been playing a significant role for his loan club – with Lewis having featured in nine of Amiens’ first 10 Ligue 2 games of the campaign.
In addition to having played a significant role for Les Licornes at the start of the season in terms of his game time, Lewis has been a standout player in several notable areas for the Hauts-de-France club and this tactical analysis piece in the form of a scout report, will take a close look at how Lewis has performed for Amiens thus far in the 2020/21 campaign.
This tactical analysis piece will examine how Lewis has been used within Luka Elsner’s tactics and we’ll look at some of the main strengths and weaknesses that the 21-year-old full-back has displayed so far during his time at Stade de la Licorne.
Positioning and runs
Throughout his time as a youth player with the 2019/20 Premier League champions, the 175cm (5’9”) tall player has been utilised in many different positions, including left midfield, right-back, central midfield and a deep-lying midfield position. However, more often than not, Lewis has been utilised as a left-back throughout his young career thus far.
This is where he has solely been played by Amiens this season and this is, perhaps, where he is most likely to continue his development, though he does demonstrate some ability that does suggest he may be capable of producing positive performances elsewhere, as we will discuss later on in this tactical analysis piece.
This image above shows us Lewis’ heat map for the 2020/21 campaign and as you might expect, he tends to provide the width for his side and generally stays out wide on the left, though this heat map does also suggest that he doesn’t solely hug the touchline and does also venture into slightly more central positions on occasion.
As well as that, this heat map shows us that he generally tends to spend most of his time in and around the central third of the pitch.
Amiens are one of the more possession-dominant sides in Ligue 2, having kept an average of 51.8% so far this season – the fifth-highest average possession percentage of any side in France’s second-tier – and as a result, Lewis and the rest of Amiens’ backline don’t tend to get pinned back in their own half very much.
Meanwhile, though he provides the width for Les Licornes in attack and does often play on the last line of the opposition defence, he doesn’t just sit on the last line and he likes to make those runs in behind the last line later from deeper positions so he spends a lot of his time providing a wide passing option in the middle third for his side during the build-up of attacks.
This image above provides us with an example of the kind of position that Lewis tends to occupy during a period of possession just before breaking into the opposition’s final third.
He likes to occupy this wide position within the central third of the pitch where he can receive the ball from defenders or deep-lying midfielders in space to then play an early cross into the penalty area. It’s worth noting that Lewis isn’t much of a ball-carrier and when he does pick up the ball in this area, he doesn’t often take more than two or three touches before trying to find a teammate positioned further up the pitch via either a through ball or a cross – the latter of which we can see him lining up here.
He has made just 1.62 dribbles per game this term, which doesn’t rank him very highly in Ligue 2 or even amongst his teammates and this indicates that he isn’t the kind of player who likes to take opposition defenders on 1v1 and instead prefers to pick the ball up in space like this in a position where he can the cause problems via his passing ability and we’ve seen him play quite a lot of early crosses from these types of positions this term and though he’s failed to do so with great success thus far – the threat he poses from these positions is a tool that Amiens like to exploit.
Here, we can see Amiens in a slightly more advanced stage of the attack and now, we see Lewis positioned higher, on the shoulder of the opposition’s last line of defence.
As mentioned, Lewis provides the width for his side in the attack, with Amiens usually lining up in either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 formation that sees the wingers tuck inside to occupy the half-spaces.
The wingers’ movement and positioning can create space for Amiens’ full-backs, both of whom tend to get forward quite a lot in a given game and as they make these runs out wide into space, they can provide a dangerous passing option for their teammates as they look to break into the final third.
The wide playmaking threat that Lewis poses and the pace that he possesses are useful tools for Elsner and his side in possession because he is a threat both in deeper positions and advanced positions like this one. He is good at finding space and this makes it difficult for the opposition to prevent him from making crosses – as is evident in the fact he’s made 5.69 crosses per 90 in Ligue 2 this season, more than anyone else in France’s second-tier.
Lewis has got a high work rate when his team are in possession and when they’re out of possession and the image above provides an example of how his high work rate helps his team during a period of possession.
Just before this image was taken, the man on the ball received a pass and the opposition player in between him Lewis, who we can see making an overlapping run here, was in a position to press him or at least to prevent him from playing the ball into the box but Lewis quickly burst forward as this player received the ball and as he did so, that opposition player who is now positioned between Lewis and the man on the ball backed off the would-be crosser to cover Lewis and the potential passing option he now provides.
As the player backed off, this created space for the man on the ball who could now play the ball into the box.
So, this passage of play provides us with just one example of how Lewis’ teammates benefit from the unselfish runs he makes that attract pressure to him and away from his teammates.
As mentioned previously, Lewis is very good at finding space and he is constantly on the move on the left flank, trying to get into positions where he can free himself up to get on the ball but this passage of play shows us that even if he doesn’t manage to get himself into space and, instead, an opposition player picks him up, this can often create opportunities for other Amiens players and in that sense, Lewis is a hard-working and unselfish player who can help his team to create chances via his offensive runs even if he doesn’t manage to get on the ball himself.
There are a couple of reasons why Lewis has made more crosses per 90 than any other player in Ligue 2 so far this season. One of those reasons, as previously mentioned, is because he is very good at finding space and he likes to mix his crosses up, with the 21-year-old playing some crosses from deep and others from more advanced areas of the pitch.
However, there is also the fact that Elsner’s tactics are set up so that both full-backs are two of their main creative outlets.
While a lot of the creative emphasis placed upon the full-backs within Amiens’ system, you could argue that Lewis has dealt well with the offensive load that’s been placed upon him this season, as in addition to playing more crosses than any other Ligue 2 player, the Liverpool youth product has got the 12th-highest cross accuracy percentage (31.43%) of any Ligue 2 player this term.
As well as mixing up the position from which he makes his cross attempts, Lewis also mixes things up in terms of the types of crosses that he makes. The image above shows us an example of Lewis floating a cross into the penalty area in an attempt to set up a header for his teammate in the box.
Meanwhile, here we can see an example of Lewis playing the ball low and hard across the face of goal in an attempt to set his teammate up so that he can slide in and just get a nick on the ball to send it goalwards – which the striker, unfortunately, failed to do here.
Lewis likes to float the ball into the box both from deep and from more advanced positions and he tends to drill the ball into the box low from more advanced positions, though he has played the ball in low from a variety of different angles – for example – he’s carried the ball to the byline to play it in low on some occasions and other times, such as in the image above, he’s played the cross from more towards the corner of the box.
One commonality with both of these crosses that we’ve looked at is they were both played into the six-yard box and it’s quite common for Lewis to target this area, with the left-back having played 0.81 crosses per 90 into the six-yard box this term – the fifth-highest number of crosses that have been played into this area by any Ligue 2 player this season.
He generally tries to land the ball in and around the six-yard box but sometimes, his crosses do then end up going too close to the goalkeeper and that is one negative to the way he plays his crosses.
Another negative for Lewis and his crossing is that he is quite one-footed and this is something that opposition defenders have exploited at some points in the early stages of the campaign. We can see an example of one such occasion in the image above.
Lewis doesn’t possess as much quality with his right foot as he does with his left foot and as a result, showing him onto his right foot has been a successful tactic for some defenders to use against him this term.
A couple of the times he has been shown onto his weaker right foot, Lewis has gone on to try and play the cross anyway and this has resulted in some poor crossing attempts. For example, in the image above, Lewis is just after getting past the defender who showed him onto his right foot and he opts to play the cross into the box with his weaker foot instead of playing the pass out to the open man on the edge of the box or taking a different passing option.
The cross is weak and easily defended, which allowed the opposition to spring a counter-attack and as well as demonstrating how one-footed the player is, this passage of play also highlights another negative aspect to Lewis’ game, which is that his decision-making does need some work, as he has made some errors in this area in the early stages of the 2020/21 campaign.
Similar to when his side is in possession, Lewis is a hard-working player when Amiens are without the ball too and the 21-year-old left-back is also an aggressive defender. This would make it seem as though he is a good fit for Elsner’s side and their tactics, who have got the third-lowest PPDA (Opponent passes per defensive action in opponent’s final 60% of the pitch) of any Ligue 2 side at this stage of the season – 8.68, which suggests that they like to press with relatively high intensity.
Lewis does seem to be a good stylistic fit for Amiens. The Liverpool-born left-back likes to win the ball high up the pitch and his pace, his tackling ability and his impressive reading of the game help him to do this. We can see one example of Lewis winning the ball back high up the pitch for his side in the image above.
Just before this image was taken, the man on the ball received the ball with his back to Lewis and the left-back was quick to leave his deeper position to pounce on the ball-receiver.
As the opposition turned on the ball, Lewis was in position to meet him and dispossess him, with the left-back quickly forcing the turnover and then combining with his side’s left-winger to build into the final third on the counter.
This passage of play shows us how Lewis’ aggressive style of defending helps his side to win the ball back and quickly turn defence into dangerous offensive situations.
Lewis is also quite liberal in his use of the slide tackle. It’s not uncommon to see him go to ground and we can see an example of the left-back doing this in the image above, in an attempt to dispossess an opposition player inside their half – which he succeeds with.
However, not all of his slide tackle attempts come off so successfully and the left-back does go to ground too often and at times too early – making it too easy for the opposition ball-carrier to get past him and thus leaving his team vulnerable as he is taken out of the game.
This next image shows us an example of one occasion when Lewis did go to ground too soon and it was quite easy for the opposition player to get past him. We’ve seen this happen on numerous occasions this season and it’s a clear weakness to his game.
Lewis has engaged in 8.12 defensive duels per 90 this term, which is the 19th-highest number of defensive duels any U23 Ligue 2 player has engaged in this season. He has a 58.9% success rate from these defensive duels. So, more often than not, when Lewis engages in a defensive duel, he comes out on top but perhaps that number can get even higher if he improves his decision-making with regards to being more selective about going to ground and maybe that could help him to reach another level.
Lastly, we’ll discuss Lewis’ ability to read the game and how that helps him to make interceptions. The defender has demonstrated an impressive reading of the game during his time at Amiens so far. One example of Lewis’ impressive understanding of the game may have been demonstrated earlier in his off-the-ball movement to create space for teammates, however, this quality also helps him to win the ball back for his team.
We can see one example of Lewis’ reading of the game helping him to win the ball back for his side in a deep position in the image above. Just before this image was taken, the left-back was tightly marking the right-winger – who is now positioned just behind his back.
However, the Toulouse wide man who is positioned slightly deeper than that winger attempted to play the ball to the right-striker, who we can see had started to drop deep in an attempt to meet the ball.
Lewis read this and before the ball could reach the striker, he quickly darted into this passing lane and intercepted the ball, winning it back for his side.
The 21-year-old is good at reading these situations and anticipating where the danger is. He is also quick to react in these situations and his pace comes in handy by combining with his quick reactions to allow his body to keep up with his quick brain and make interceptions like this.
This next image shows us another example of how Lewis’ reading of the game has helped him to win the ball back for his side this season, though this scenario is quite different to the previous one.
Here, we can see Lewis moving into a central position to try and meet the ball just after it has been headed away by an opposition player after an Amiens cross had been played in from the right flank.
As that cross from the right-wing was played into the box, Lewis retreated from his position high on the left-wing and began to drop deep and this intelligent bit of movement played an important role in helping him to meet this clearance and then get on the ball in plenty of space to send it back into the danger zone – quickly putting the opposition backline under pressure.
The Amiens loanee demonstrated an impressive reading of the game to move into this space and some impressive ability to anticipate where the play was going, to make this happen.
To conclude this tactical analysis piece in the form of a scout report, it’s clear that Lewis is far from the finished product. He is raw and he has some clear areas of improvement – notably, his decision-making.
However, he has demonstrated plenty of physical, technical and mental ability with Amiens and if he can iron out some of the primary issues in his game, he has more than enough strengths to potentially make this a very successful loan spell and it will be interesting to see how he continues to develop as the season progresses ahead of his return to Anfield in the summer.