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The Bielsa Way: Leeds march on to win the season’s first Yorkshire derby

The Whites grinded their way to another three points, beating Rotherham 2-0 at Elland Road.

Leeds United v Rotherham United - Sky Bet Championship
Kemar Roofe celebrates his third goal in as many league matches.
Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Marcelo Bielsa’s side experienced a much more tough and gritty ninety minutes that they have previously played in league and cup. Rotherham United gave this revamped Leeds United team a good test but could not stop the Peacocks from shining in the end as goals from Luke Ayling and Kemar Roofe sealed another league victory in the new campaign as the Whites retain a 100% record.

The first half wasn’t as inspiring of a performance than what we have seen in the first couple of league games. Throughout the match Rotherham held a dense line as Will Vaulks and the wing-backs held one with the back three, clinging on to the eighteen yard line, while the rest of the team added extra cover in front. Crosses were coming in from deeper in the away team’s half but there wasn’t much of an aerial presence in the side, which also didn’t help from corner kicks, especially when up against a big and powerful eleven that the Whites were up against.

Defensively, Leeds continued their swarm of pressure at the blink of an eye. It’s become apparent that anytime Leeds lose the ball that there is always someone in close proximity to the ball and the teammate who lost it. A couple times Leeds were in this position and when they were, they ensured that a) there would always be one teammate with the man who holds possession and b) that should the ball be lost, both could instantly snap into a mode of swarming the ball to give time for the formation to reform, especially the full-backs, and try to regain possession.

The two centre-halves Berardi and Cooper did their jobs pretty well, but a couple times were caught out, perhaps playing the ball out a bit too much which results in pressure and mistakes. On this particular occasion, it was dealt with by Peacock-Farrell between the sticks. Despite it’s difficulty at times, it does show great confidence in their responsibilities.

It was clear that Leeds needed some new ideas in causing problems for their opponents, and Bielsa delivered. Leeds passed between the lines much more which resulted in more space in and around the penalty area, picking up the second balls and starting again, Rotherham just couldn’t keep up. The first goal was rather bizarre but I don’t think any Leeds fan could complain. Samu Saiz had a great chance to double the scoreline with some super inter-play on the far right, but he took to long in hitting it and the ball was headed away on the line.

Kemar Roofe popped up with another goal as the ball was worked out of pressure deep in Leeds territory before linchpin Phillips played a peach of a pass down the left for Roofe, he swept by the defender tight to the goal-line before setting himself and finishing superbly from a tight angle.

On to Tuesday and Swansea City.