We’RE ALL LEEDS AREN’T WE: Poet and Leeds United fan Matt Abbott thinks Bielsa’s side has a lot to smile about
The Premier League champions’ 7-2 humiliation at Villa Park shed a new light on our epic opener.
It brought a twinge of doubt: should we be sat here on eight points, rather than seven? Were Klopp’s men there for the taking? But any of us would’ve been over the moon with seven points from our opening four fixtures.
Particularly when we also faced billionaire outfit Manchester City.
And as we’ve mulled things over during the international break, there’s a lot to smile about.
One thing that stood out for me in our 1-1 draw against Guardiola’s side was the speed of our response. During the opening quarter, we were poised for a rout. Sterling’s goal had been coming and we barely had possession for more than a few seconds.
And whilst I’ve faith in our defenders, seeing De Bruyne and Mahrez tearing forwards made me do a little gulp.
By the end of the first half, we were ruing the fact that Ayling hadn’t equalised. And by full-time, we’d seen Ayling and fellow wing-back Dallas transform from looking overwhelmed to overpowering.
As the old footballing adage goes, “we’d shown them too much respect.” Sure: they’re Manchester City. But we’re Leeds United.
The second half was one of our most enthralling periods of football in years. We were toe-to-toe on a knife edge. And when Rodrigo equalised on the hour mark, we had our noses in front.
Ederson kept them in it a couple of times: more-so than Meslier had to do at the opposite end. And for only the seventh time in Guardiola’s entire managerial history, his side had less overall possession.
So, here’s the thing about Leeds being back in the top-flight. I used the word ‘enthralling’ because it brings a sense of joy: the pinnacle of entertainment.
We’ve been toe-to-toe on a knife edge many times recently. But with the stakes so high, and the pressure so intense, it was more excruciating than anything else. And sure: once we’d won, it was euphoric. But the games themselves were downright stressful.
Our 5-4 win over Birmingham in December was one of the most exasperating games I’ve ever witnessed.
And if Sterling had bagged a late winner, I’d still have enjoyed the game. I touched on this slightly in my opening column. It’s not that we’re happy to lose – it’s that we’re grappling with the elite and holding our own.
The fact that we’re so good under Bielsa means that we’re here to enjoy it. Making up for lost time. Fearing nobody. Winning neutrals’ hearts as well as points.
And whilst the bizarre high-scoring anomalies might’ve settled by New Year, we know that Bielsa’s Leeds side will still be going full throttle.