Marcelo Bielsa is not surprised that the championship champions Leeds United are impressing in the Premier League, insisting they weren’t sentimental about building a top flight team.
Leeds is closing in on Wednesday’s game against Everton just four points behind the Toffees after back-to-back victories.
Bielsa’s side edged out Newcastle United, but then were brilliant against Leicester City, which dealt a major blow to their opponents’ title hopes.
With Rodrigo and Raphinha injured, Leeds ended the Leicester match with 11 players they had used in the second division.
However, Bielsa explained that he kept these stars knowing that they could perform in the Premier League.
“Clearly, the level is totally different,” he said. “In the Championship we play to be the best.
“At this level, we have to make a huge effort to be able to keep up, to look like our opponents, not to let them be superior to us.
“But when the club decided to build the squad for this campaign, all the players that were kept were kept because we thought they could live up to the expectations of playing in this league.”
Their next test is against an Everton side that suffered a surprise setback on Saturday in a home loss to Newcastle United.
“I was a bit surprised because in the last period we showed good consistency, good spirit,” said coach Carlo Ancelotti.
“How can we maintain this? Working on this every day. There is no other way, but we have to understand that this season is really peculiar.”
PLAYERS TO SEE
Leeds United – Patrick Bamford
Striker Bamford scored one and created the other two against Leicester City, meaning he now has 11 goals and four assists in 20 Premier League games this season. Tony Yeboah (17) is the only Leeds player to have directly participated in the most goals in his first 20 games for Leeds in the competition.
Everton – Dominic Calvert-Lewin
Everton need Calvert-Lewin to rediscover their best form. The English forward scored 10 goals on 29 shots in his first nine league games this season for a conversion rate of 34 percent. Since then, he has made one of 19 shots, a conversion rate of five percent.
OPTA KEY FACTS
– Following their 1-0 win at Goodison Park in the reverse game, Leeds are looking to complete their first league double over Everton since 1990-91, when they were also a newly promoted side.
– Everton have only won one of their last 37 away games in the top flight against Leeds (9 draws, 27 losses), winning 1-0 in November 2002 thanks to a goal by Wayne Rooney.
– Of the 45 teams Everton have played at least 10 times away from home in top flight history, their lowest win rate on the road is against Leeds; the Toffees have won just three of their 49 visits to Elland Road (six percent – D12 L34).
– Leeds have won all three midweek Premier League games this season (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), scoring 12 goals and conceding three.
– Everton have won four of their last five league matches away from home (D1), including each of the most recent three in a row. The last time he won four consecutive away games in the top flight was in December 1985.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.