Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa on what he wished for at Arsenal, his debutants and Alexandre Lacazette's VAR check

Marcelo Bielsa got exactly what he wanted from his Leeds United players in the first half of their FA Cup defeat at the Emirates, as they dominated a Premier League side.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 10:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 9:02 am

The Whites were head and shoulders better than the hosts and created numerous chances to score.

But the Argentine admitted that life was made more difficult for them in a second half that saw Arsenal find the net once. And once - Reiss Nelson's scuffed effort - was enough to win it.

Bielsa lavished praise on his side's first half showing."We wanted to beat them and we tried to win the match," he said.

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"The first half was what we wished. We did three important things. We pressed well their playing out. We made the first pass uncomfortable and easy for our defenders to anticipate and in this way we avoided the striker being involved in the play.

"When we recovered the ball quickly in the opponents' half, we were able to combine with fast passes.

"That happened in the first half and we didn't do it in the second half. We thought we were in good condition to repeat what we did in the first half and it wasn't like that.

In the second half we understood it was difficult to keep control as we did in the first half. We should have tried to play the match more balanced."

Gjanni Alioski had a couple of good first half chances as Leeds United dominated Arsenal (Pic: Bruce Rollinson)

Bielsa handed first team debuts to Robbie Gotts and goalkeeper Ilan Meslier and was delighted with both of them, along with teenage substitute Jordan Stevens.

"About the three young players, Gotts, Meslier and Stevens, I think all of them did well," he said.

[Gotts] is a player that added good positive things in the match. He made few mistakes. He has a simple play, he achieved to compete in good condition at this level.

"[Meslier] gave a great performance. The way he played is very positive for us, looking at the future."

Bielsa was unaware that the first of two VAR checks during the game was for a potential red card for Alexandre Lacazette, for an apparent kick out at Gaetano Berardi.

But regardless, he was pleased it did not result in a sending off.

"If he did that and he didn't get a red card, it is better. If they have been unfair with our players maybe it could be bitter for us but we never wish a red card for the opponent when things like that happen. It is better to play 11 v 11. But I say that because I didn't realise this happened. But I think the better thing to believe is that nothing happened, because the VAR confirmed that."