Marcelo Bielsa on Leeds United's disrupted build-up to Burnley and the battle Premier League clubs face amid Covid

Marcelo Bielsa says all teams are battling similar issues amid Leeds United's disrupted preparation for Burnley.

By Joe Urquhart
Sunday, 2nd January 2022, 6:00 am

United have been ravaged by injuries in recent months, seeing no fewer than 10 senior players missing against Arsenal last time out due to knocks, suspension and Covid.

Leeds are finally set to return to action this afternoon following an enforced break from games. A small Covid outbreak in LS11 before Christmas saw matches against Liverpool and Aston Villa postponed over the festive period.

Burnley are the visitors to West Yorkshire later today in what is an important meeting for Leeds as they look to start the new year on strong footing.

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The Whites are five points ahead of the Clarets, who sit in the first spot of the relegation zone, ahead of kick-off in their first outing for 15 days.

Training for some members of the squad has been heavily disrupted following a period of isolation while others continue to battle their way back to full fitness.

Bielsa says that despite the difficult build-up it is something that every side in the Premier League is facing, leaving no excuses.

"The reality that we’re facing is not only ours," Bielsa said during his pre-match press conference.

Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa. Pic: Getty

"I can’t say that a healthy player is in ideal conditions to compete, because when you haven’t competed for one month or three weeks, you need a period to reach that height, but that’s a reality, and the teams that we’re coming up against have similar problems.

"The competition always compares the reality of two teams, so our problems [are ones] our opponents also have - that’s to say that the proportion is maintained between the two teams are competing.

"It’s not that we have problems and our opponents don’t, or that our opponents have problems that we don’t. The proportions are more or less similar.

"We all have difficulties that lower the level of the competition, the proportions of comparison are the same."

He added on whether the break may have been of benefit: "The illness of a group of players can never be considered positive, even after alternative consequences that can be valued - what provokes it is sufficiently serious to not value it."

Asked about what preparation can be undertaken for games without knowing who may be available on a day-to-day basis, Bielsa said: "I focus on the performance of the team, the weaknesses that we have shown and the weaknesses that we have shown are ones that I have precisely worked on to elevate from last season.

"When I made the decision to work here for one more year, it’s because I had the conviction that the team could be better. Depending on some decisions and developments, what I wanted to develop, for the team to grow - I didn’t achieve it."