Joe Gelhardt looks set for an extended run in the Leeds United side after the Whites’ win over Burnley on Sunday saw Tyler Roberts added to their injury list.
Leeds’ 3-1 victory lifted them eight points clear of the bottom three, at a bouncing and pulsating Elland Road. However, their debilitating injury list shows little signs of easing with Roberts being withdrawn in the 58th minute. Roberts hobbled off with what appeared to be a calf injury and now faces an anxious wait to see how long he’ll face on the sidelines.
Tthe Wales forward, as well as defender Diego Llorente, will be certainly absent for one game at least with both facing one-match bans after receiving their fifth bookings of the season.
Bielsa though was satisfied with how Roberts’ replacement, teenager Gelhardt, and fellow substitute Dan James performed. Indeed, they combined to for Leeds’ third goal in added-on time as Leeds won by two clear goals for the first time this season.
“What we were trying to do was recover the best way we are trying to play and in some ways we got it,” Bielsa said of his second-half changes.
“Gelhardt coming on for Tyler maintained the game how we wanted it and down the left James opened up paths and he ended up scoring.”
James’ stoppage-time header sealed a significant win for Leeds, who had earlier regained the lead through Stuart Dallas after Burnley substitute Maxwel Cornet’s excellent free-kick cancelled out Jack Harrison’s first-half opener.
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Leeds secured their fourth league win of the season without talisman Kalvin Phillips, Patrick Bamford, skipper Liam Cooper and club record signing Rodrigo. Versatile stars Pascal Struijk and Jamie Shackleton also remain on the sidelines.
Junior Firpo (ban) and Llorente (illness) both returned to face Burnley as Leeds regrouped during a two-week break due to postponed matches and delivered a much-improved display after the recent 4-1 home defeat to Arsenal.
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Bielsa added: “In some way we managed to get in behind. There was a lot of combination play, there was a defensive security.
“Even if it wasn’t absolute, it was important and we had the ball a lot of the time. We also managed to finish our attacks in the opponent’s half.”
Michael Owen goes wild over Raphinha
Michael Owen, meanwhile, has waxed lyrical about the performance of Leeds winger Raphinha on Sunday. And the former England striker reckons the Brazilian is capable of playing for any club in world football.
The Brazilian superstar has been one of the Premier League’s best players this season, despite Leeds’ lowly position. Indeed, Raphinha has scored eight goals, chipping in with one assist from his 17 appearances so far. It’s that kind of form that highlights him as a transfer target for some of Europe’s top clubs.
Owen, however, was an interested observer as Leeds put Burnley to the sword 3-1 on Sunday. Leeds’ goals came from Jack Harrison, Stuwart Dallas and Dan James; the Whites, for once, not needing any Raphinha magic.
Nonetheless, Leeds almost opened the scoring from a piece of brilliance from Raphinha. Spotting Clarets keeper Wayne Hennessey off his line, his drive from the halfway line had the Wales keeper scrambling back. And his relief was palpable as Raphinha’s shot grazed the top of the crossbar.
Speaking about the effort and Raphinha’s efforts in general, Owen made a big claim about the Leeds star.
“I mean, it’s a player I absolutely love,” Owen told Premier League Productions. “He’s got that about him. He has got that skill. He has got that vision.
“The technique is perfect. Just again, it skims the top of the crossbar. But he is a player that can play in any team, for me.”