MARCELO Bielsa has declared Friday night’s Elland Road showdown with Derby County as a game Leeds United “need to win” to assert their authority at the top of the Championship.
Leeds approach the contest following back-to-back league losses for the first time this season but holding a two-point lead at the top of the division over second-placed Norwich City who visit fourth-placed West Brom on Saturday afternoon.
United could be missing up to eight players through injury or suspension but Bielsa is demanding what he feels would be a “very positive” triumph against Frank Lampard’s free-flowing Rams who themselves are firmly in the promotion mix sitting sixth and eight points behind Leeds.
Victory for United would open up a five-point gap at the top of the division before Saturday’s games and a seven-point advantage back to third-placed Sheffield United who entertain QPR.
Bielsa said: “We need to win the game because we lost the last two Championship games, because we are playing against a team that is going up (in form) and they are playing with a style.
“If we can win against them taking their style into account it would be a very positive thing for us.
Bielsa added: “We are missing many players but, for me, it’s not an excuse.
"We have the obligation to win the next game and we can win the next game.
"We just lost the last three games, the last one we deserved to lose, but the two Championship games, we didn’t deserve to lose them.
"We have no excuses whatsoever not to win against Derby.
"We have the players we need to reach the win with optimism.”