Former Leeds United midfielder Michael Brown has lauded Luke Ayling‘s versatility as he moved from right-back to centre-back in the 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
An excellent start to the campaign has seen the Whites narrowly lose to Liverpool, hold Manchester City and beat Aston Villa 3-0 at Villa Park. The latter saw Patrick Bamford score a sublime hat-trick but it also forced Bielsa have to make some unwanted changes to his starting XI.
Liam Cooper, Diego Llorente and Kalvin Phillips were all out injured for the tie against Dean Smith’s side, with the former two players leaving a gap in central defence.
Brown delighted with Ayling’s performance against Villa
Right-back Ayling, who was arguably Leeds’ best performer last season with a peak squad rating of 7.26 out of 10 from WhoScored, deputised at centre-back in the win at Villa Park.
Speaking about the defender, Brown told Football Insider: “Luke Ayling stepped in as a makeshift, left-sided centre-back and I thought he did very, very well.
“He organised everybody, a great display, he was excellent. He made some good recoveries, he was composed on the ball.
“What surprised me was that he didn’t go in as a right-sided centre-back, he went in as that left-sided centre-back. I thought it was a really sound display.”
Leeds face Leicester City on Monday night in what promises to be an intriguing Premier League fixture between two teams in the top six.
Luke Ayling to continue at centre-back for Leicester test
Whether Ayling will continue to play at centre-back alongside Robin Koch will depend on the fitness of Cooper, who has been struggling of late; and although Pascal Struijk came in at first to replace the experienced defender, Ayling’s performance against Villa is likely to keep him in that central defensive role.
Marcelo Bielsa was rightly praised by Brown for this tactical tweak, another feather in the cap of the much-heralded Leeds manager.
Leeds fans, see which one of Ayling’s teammates was also lauded for his Villa Park performance by clicking here!
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