Leeds United should fear no one to this season
03 Nov 2020 03:00 pm, by YorkshireSquare
There is always that bit of doubt, a fear when moving up a division about whether the team, the players will be able to compete against their new adversaries. But Leeds United, under the tutelage of Marcelo Bielsa, have been a Premier League team in waiting for the past two years. Favourites at bookies like oddstips.vip for promotion last season they have taken the Premier League by storm, they have taken to the top-flight like ducks to water, they have already faced the best two teams in England, champions of the last two seasons and held their own. Despite last nights result, they have no one to fear this season.
Sixteen years of pain and suffering, sixteen years of waiting for our return to the top-flight ended against Liverpool and it didn’t disappoint one bit! No one could have realistically expected us to get anything from the game, not given the way Liverpool ruthlessly dispatched Norwich on the opening day of last season. But it was an opportunity for Marcelo Bielsa and this Leeds side to show the world what they are capable of on the biggest stage and they certainly did that. As Jürgen Klopp mouthed after the final whistle; “Wow!” Liverpool may have taken the points but Leeds came away with the plaudits, the world stood up and took notice.
Leeds came home from Merseyside defeated but they were so close to securing at least a point, and it could have been more. Without Salah it would have been a different story for Liverpool, he was outstanding, but Pascal Struijk and Luke Ayling kept Mané and Firmino quiet for most of the game. Mateusz Klich looked like he’d been playing in the Premier League all his life and Harrison and Costa were a nuisance to Liverpool’s, supposedly world class, wing backs all game. What’s more Leeds scored the better goals, Liverpool were pushed hard all game and restricted to set-pieces whilst Harrison and Klich’s efforts will be worthy contenders for goal of the season.
The first fifteen minutes of the Manchester City game were a difficult watch, it seemed we had met our match, the reality of Premier League football hit home. But when De Bruyne hit the post and Raheem Sterling turned Luke Ayling inside out it felt like we could be in for a long afternoon. When Sterling cut inside again and nestled the ball in the bottom right hand corner of the net it seemed like a question of how many City would score. But Leeds fought their way back into the game and after they established a foothold in the match looked every bit as capable as winning as the four-time Premier League champions.
As with the Liverpool game Leeds edged possession against one of the best footballing teams in Europe, they made more passes with a better pass completion rate, made more tackles and had more big chances. Whilst City had twice as many shots, they only had one on target with Leeds troubling Ederson on seven occasions. Had it not been for the Brazilian, Leeds could have recorded a famous victory. It was a game City should probably have put to bed in the first twenty minutes but in the end, it was a fair result. Leeds held their own against another top team and had the best chances.
Every single player has stepped up this season. Bamford is answering his critics and scoring for fun, our wingers are taring defences to pieces and Kalvin Phillips’ performances have seen him called up to the England squad for the first time. Robin Koch, after an uncertain start, looks like bargain of the season at £13 million whilst Luke Ayling and Liam Cooper have kept the best English football has to throw at them quiet. Illan Meslier is composed beyond his years and every player who has come into the side has impressed; Poveda, Shackleton, Struijk and Raphinha.
I’m not saying we won’t lose, of course we will, a frustrating Monday night encounter against Wolverhampton Wanderers and bit of a lesson against Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester last night proved that and there will be more. But we should not go into a game fearing anyone, we should have punished Wolves first half and if Bamford puts his early chance away against Leicester it’s a different game. Marcelo Bielsa’s side are fitter than most, run further than most and work harder than most. Combined with a clear philosophy, teamwork and one of the greatest tacticians in world football at the helm Leeds have no one to be worried about and the opposition have every reason to be worried about Leeds United.
Jürgen Klopp got a shock on the opening weekend of the season, Pep Guardiola came away from Elland Road with a bloodied nose and upstarts Aston Villa have been put firmly in their place. They won’t be the only ones coming off second best to Marcelo Bielsa and this Leeds United side this season.