Leeds United

Leeds United

Premier League • England

Bielsa explains how Leeds aided Arsenal victory as promising injury update given on trio

James Holland
Marcelo Bielsa Leeds

Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa has moved to explain how his side helped Arsenal to victory at Elland Road.

The Whites, who have several key stars out due to injury, were looking for a response to Tuesday’s 7-0 thrashing by Man City. But they could not find it as Mikel Arteta’s side ran out 4-1 winners in their backyard.

Gabriel Martinelli netted a brace inside 28 minutes, with Bukayo Saka making it 3-0 before the interval.

Raphinha pulled one back for Leeds from the penalty spot after Ben White had fouled Joe Gelhardt in the box. But Arsenal had the final say as Emile Smith Rowe came off the bench to net their fourth with six minutes left.

The result leaves Leeds just four points above the relegation zone. The main worry for Bielsa is that they have played three more games than 18th-place Burnley.

During a post-match interview with Sky Sports (via BBC Sport), Bielsa said: “Two different halves. The second half, we could have won it but the first half we could have lost it by more goals.

“The losses of the ball in our own half and centre of the pitch increases the offensive power of the opponent. To increase the amount of danger we can create, we need to recover the ball when they play out.

“They managed to take the ball off us when we were trying to build and attack and we couldn’t – that’s what explains the difference.”

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Leeds’ poor performances this week can be mitigated somewhat by their injury pile up. First-team regulars Kalvin Phillips, Patrick Bamford, Dan James, Liam Cooper and Rodrigo are all out, among others.

When asked if their problems are down to injuries, Bielsa continued: “We’re all used to playing together. We prepare ourselves with all the players.

“They prevented us from getting into their half with combination play. Through their recoveries and build-up of their play they created danger.”

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Bielsa update on Leeds trio

The injury list could have gotten worse as Jack Harrison had to be replaced by Crysencio Summerville. Stuart Dallas and Raphinha also went to ground following challenges during the match.

But Bielsa has given a promising update on the availability of those three going into the next round of fixtures.

He said simply: “They’re just knocks.”

Leeds now have eight days to prepare for their next game. They face Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Boxing Day at 12:30, Covid permitting.

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