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The Bielsa Way: Leeds United return to the top of the tree

Following a disappointing result at Ewood Park, Leeds returned to Elland Road and got a crucial win against Ipswich.

Leeds United v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship
Pablo Hernandez grabbed two assists on his first start since returning from injury.
Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Marcelo Bielsa spent twelve minutes of his pre-match press conference talking about efficiency of goal-scoring, and the Whites definitely could’ve scored far more than two in the victory over Ipswich Town. Leeds United really needed this win and now will look to start another run of wins as first to thirteenth is separated by just six points in the table.

The impact of Pablo Hernandez in his return was crucial as well as magical, his beautiful, inch-perfect cross for Kemar Roofe who’s header beat a wrong-footed Bialowski to score his first goal since returning from his own injury. Leeds would continue their attacking trends with Liam Cooper’s brilliant finish from Alioski’s short corner to Hernandez, whose ball into the box from the left slipped by everyone in its path before the skipper’s ferocious strike doubled the Leeds lead on 66 minutes. Bielsa highlighted after the game that Leeds had ten clear-cut chances, including an incredible effort from Alioski which bounced off the inside of the post but must have been just millimetres from going in off the post rather than back into play.

Once again, Leeds dominated possession at a 65% overall, taking eighteen shots to three and fifteen corners to nil. This free-flowing style continues but looking back at recent results, we need to be hitting the back of the net more, especially in matches like these. Kalvin Phillips is in his element at the moment in front of the back four. KP had more touches than any other player on the park, with four interceptions made and an 86% pass accuracy (courtesy of @LUFCDATA on twitter) while Pablo Hernandez gave us a hell of a lot more creativity on the pitch from the right side, gliding through challenges and really giving strikers like Roofe the supply that they need for goals, Hernandez can play to the strengths of any of our strikers, this season’s performances make the case and point.

Adam Forshaw also came onto the park for a good half hour and it was very pleasing to see him get some more minutes, he could be especially crucial in the second half of the season. Alioski had one of his better games too and hopefully those glimmers of quality can gain more consistency from here on in. Tom Pearce also got half an hour out on the park and perhaps should have been given his chance starting left-back in the first place, after all he is the next natural left back after Douglas.

Leeds United v Brentford - Sky Bet Championship
Marcelo Bielsa has built a flexible squad with the current Leeds team and the five summer additions, serving Leeds well so far.
Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Samu Saiz has also been a figure of debate, is he making the amount of impact that we need and/or expect? It’s a difficult one for sure, he’s gone missing in a couple games, sometimes the game just hasn’t played out in his favour but we all know that he can also produce a sparkle in the centre. But with Forshaw back to full fitness and Mateusz Klich scoring goals, should Leeds try some other options in the ‘enganche’ if you like?

Lewis Baker has had very little game time so far to the point where we’re surprised. Lewis Baker looks to have a lot going for him and a good relationship with the players around him like KP, Roofe, Harrison and the currently injured Patrick Bamford. Alongside Klich, he also has an eye for goal and is the perfect number eight with a lot going for him in terms of physicality, box-to-box endurance, defending and attacking ability plus his great ability with both feet. Should the starting line-up continue in it’s current trend, he like players such as Izzy Brown and Bamford, will be crucial for the second half of the season.

We move onto another massive game at Elland Road this Saturday evening and hopefully Leeds start another great winning streak in this tight table.