Ayling reveals how Bielsa has now stamped Premier League mark on Leeds

Luke Ayling, Harvey Barnes

Defender Luke Ayling feels Leeds have now adapted to life in the Premier League, with Marcelo Bielsa’s influence key to their development.

The Whites picked up the fourth Premier League victory of the season on Saturday, with a 1-0 success over Everton. Raphinha’s sublime 79th-minute strike was enough to take all three points from Goodison Park.

They now sit 11th in the top-flight standings, with 14 points from 10 games played. It was a welcome return to form, with the Yorkshire outfit having taken one point from their previous three games.

They suffered back-to-back 4-1 losses to Leicester City and Crystal Palace before a goalless draw with Arsenal.

Saturday’s display was one of Leeds’ best of the 2020-2021 campaign, with energy levels high throughout. And Ayling feels it is down to the fact the manager’s methods are starting to pay off.

“We’ve been working with Bielsa for the last two years. It’s the third year of his reign now,” the 29-year-old said. “Our first eight games was always going to be a learning curve. I think we’ve learnt a lot from those eight games.”

The Argentinian tactician has his players well drilled and fit but that is not always enough to survive. Ayling believes there is much more to the current crop of players than just an ability to run all day.

“I think we have a reputation of being a fit team but I thought our football was excellent,” he added. “I think we’re starting to play more football and not just try to be hard to beat. So far, so good.”

Living the dream

This season has seen the first top-flight football at Elland Road since 2004.

Predictably, the Peacocks were among the favourites to go straight back down. But they have taken points off Manchester City and Arsenal as well as Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

The season-opening 4-3 defeat to champions Liverpool announced that they meant business. Things will doubtless get tougher as the season progresses. But, whatever happens, Ayling is just pleased to be playing at the top level.


“I know quite a lot of people say it, but it is a dream for us to be playing at this level,” he added to BBC Sport. “We were in League One and in the Championship for many years, so to be in the Premier League is what we dreamt of as kids.

“I hope we can keep playing good football and keep this going.”


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