Daniel James admits pressure is on but insists Leeds United are relishing treacherous trio
Daniel James admits the Everton defeat has put more pressure on Leeds, but they're still relishing the trio of tough fixtures ahead.
Taking on the sides in fifth, second and eighth respectively in the space of seven days will be as stern a test as the Whites have encountered since their 2020 promotion to the top flight. Although Manchester United are going through a difficult spell, with dressing room leaks and patchy form, they've got the better of Leeds in two of their three counters since the Whites returned to the Premier League and have players who could cause Bielsa a lot of problems in the midfield specifically. Liverpool's individual and collective ability speaks for itself. Jurgen Klopp's men are on a tear and beat Leeds handily at Elland Road earlier in this campaign, while Tottenham Hotspur also hold a victory over the Whites this season and also boast an array of world-class talent.
The hectic nature of the fixture scheduling, thanks chiefly to the need to rearrange the Anfield visit due to its Boxing Day postponement for Covid-19 cases in the Leeds camp, and the quality of the opposition are not the only difficulties for the Whites next week.
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Leeds have struggled to build momentum since January wins over Burnley and West Ham United, suffering bitterly disappointing defeats to Newcastle United and Everton, either side of a 3-3 draw at Aston Villa. The Goodison loss left them six points off 10th place and six points clear of Norwich City who head the three-team drop zone, but the next week will be a long time and the picture could change suddenly in either direction.
It has been a season of inconsistency, injuries and inadequate performances against the bigger sides and what's more Bielsa is still missing Liam Cooper, Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford, with fresh question marks over the fitness of both Stuart Dallas and Leo Hjelde.
Despite the adversity, James insists there is confidence within the squad ahead of the kind of fixtures players most want to play in.
"We are looking forward to them," said the winger, who has been playing up front in Bamford's absence.
"We have got obviously three games next week as the Liverpool game has been put in between.
"It's the games we play for, we have maybe put a little bit more pressure on from not getting a result from this game but we are all confident going into it."
At Aston Villa, James scored his third and fourth goals since a £25m move from Old Trafford to Elland Road. He started as a lone striker at Everton in what was his 24th appearance in Leeds colours, before moving to the flank when Bielsa made half-time changes.