Many might have been surprised when they saw Ezgjan Alioski’s name at left-back on Friday evening when Leeds United hosted Derby County at Elland Road.
But the decision by manager Marcelo Bielsa to put his confidence in Alioski and the performance by the 26-year-old proved why the Whites are a class above the rest of the teams in the Championship this season as they beat Frank Lampard’s charges 2-0.
Alioski looked the part from the very start of the match and the composure and calmness Leeds played with the 90 minutes will make it quite the surprise if they do not get promoted to the Premier League.
It was a busy day for Bielsa, who prior to the match admitted to sending a spy to Derby’s training ground on Friday morning and it added to the tension ahead of kickoff.
But on the field, there was only one team in it as Leeds got back to winning ways after suffering consecutive defeats.
Bielsa’s decision to play players out of position in their FA Cup tie with QPR last weekend backfired quite evidently, but his decision to play Alioski in a position he’s never played in (or at least often) on Friday evening was a masterstroke to say the least.
It showed the commitment and desire Leeds pride themselves on this season and will it take something special to break their system down, especially at home.
Alioski’s link up play with winger Jack Harrison was particularly impressive and his assist for Harrison’s goal at the start of the second-half emphasised the confidence he was playing with.
A naturally talented footballer who is more than capable of adapting in different positions and works hard in both attack and defence.
It is the type of work-rate that makes the difference between getting promoted or not in the end and this current Leeds squad possesses quite a few players with that mindset.
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