Many Leeds United fans, if they are of the honest type, will readily admit to scoffing at the chance that they’d land Marcelo Bielsa as manager when it was first mooted.
However, with the sweet sell applied, the legendary Argentine coaching guru is onboard, and is taking the Championship by storm. He’s guided last season’s band of misfits to the top of the pile, and they are looking good for being there.
Bielsa’s achieved that lofty position with, as mentioned, a squad assembled largely from last season’s leftovers, some promoted youngsters and only two permanent summer signings. One of those is former Wolves left-back Barry Douglas.
The Argentine has reinvigorated the Whites, turning them from a spluttering, misfiring mess that finished in 13th under Paul Heckingbottom into a purring, yet savage beast of a side. Hard to get on the back foot, tenacious in defence and ravenous in attack – this is a Leeds United side that has torn sides apart that they have faced.
Yet, all that to one side, they face the divisions most potent attacking force at the weekend in West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies are led by twin eight goal strikers in Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez, and are ably supported by attacking midfielder Harvey Barnes, the youngster having five goals and three assists to his name.
Bielsa said West Brom will pose a major attacking threat, the best in the division. “But there is an old saying: the best way to defend is to attack.” Wants Leeds to go there and control possession. #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) November 8, 2018
West Brom are the only side to have outscored United in the Championship this season, yet they are five points worse off than Leeds and on wobbly form. Bielsa saying that he feels the best form of defence is attack, an attack where he wants to control possession. Fire being fought with fire can only mean one thing – sparks will be spat out and they will be dangerous.
However, Leeds United fans can rest a little easier regarding one big strength that they’ll take into the game. they are the division’s stingiest side when it comes to allowing goals from open play situations. From open play, they’ve only conceded four times – only two of these away from home.
Whilst their weaknesses lay elsewhere, namely conceding from set pieces (six) and penalties (two), it seems that they are rock solid defending open play situations. Maybe this is what Bielsa meant by saying “the best way to defend is to attack.” The proof of that pudding will come on Saturday early evening.