Former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan has hailed the Whites’ off-the-ball performance against Chelsea as the “best-ever” during Marcelo Bielsa’s time at the club.
Leeds played out a hard-fought 0-0 draw with the Blues at Elland Road last Saturday, with both teams expertly drilled throughout.
It was a fair result by the time the final whistle arrived, with neither side doing enough to justify taking home all three points, but also not meriting a defeat.
The result once again showed that Leeds are perfectly capable of holding their own against the Premier League’s best teams, with Chelsea still unbeaten with Thomas Tuchel at the helm.
Whelan lauds outstanding Leeds effort
The Whites are renowned for their intense playing style under Bielsa, with the Argentine ensuring his players are in peak physical condition and press opponents relentlessly during matches.
That was certainly the case against Chelsea, and speaking to Football Insider about Leeds’ efforts, Whelan claimed they have never been better out of possession, picking out Luke Ayling for special praise:
“Luke Ayling was excellent. When you look at the amount of effort we had to put in, it had to be a very disciplined performance.
“You know what you’re gonna get from Luke at right-wing-back. He loves to get forward but he can defend as well. He covers ground and he has the experience in that position that we need.
“I could give everyone 9/10 for the way they worked, the way they got into Chelsea’s face. You’ve got to do that against players of that calibre and quality. You can’t allow them a second on the ball.
“I think the discipline was the best-ever under Marcelo Bielsa in terms of pressing, off the ball, getting behind the ball. It was aggressive and it was for 90 minutes and it had to be. Ayling was key to that.
“When we had the opportunity to take the game to Chelsea, we did. There could have been goals on either side but I think a draw was probably a fair result.”
Transfer Tavern take
It doesn’t matter how talented individuals are, the work ethic of a team holds the key to its success, which is precisely why Leeds have excelled with Bielsa as manager.
He has instilled a tenacity and professionalism in his players that shows on the pitch week in, week out, with arguably no team in the league working harder when they don’t have the ball.
In other news, a former Premier League striker has tipped one Leeds player to move on this summer – find out who it is here.
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