West Brom v Leeds United: Marcelo Bielsa calls for attacking stance against best offensive players in division

KEY DUO: West Bromwich Albion's Dwight Gayle, right, and Jay Rodriguez.
KEY DUO: West Bromwich Albion's Dwight Gayle, right, and Jay Rodriguez.
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MARCELO BIELSA is calling for Leeds United to keep up the attack at West Brom tonight in a bid to nullify the threat of the “best offensive players” in English football’s second tier.

Darren Moore’s side are the only team in the division to have outscored Leeds with the Baggies having netted 33 times in 16 games with QPR blitzed 7-1 at The Hawthorns back in August.

Bielsa has highlighted the combined threat of Dwight Gayle, Jay Rodriguez, Matt Phillips and Harvey Barnes as the most potent in the division and a factor United will need to be wary of in tonight’s clash at The Hawthorns which the head coach has described as a defensive “exam”.

But the 63-year-old is equally keen for his free-flowing side to continue on the offensive with Bielsa keen for United to have plenty of possession with a view of justifying the phrase that “the best way to defend is to attack.”

“I think the best offensive players of the Championship play in West Bromwich,” said Bielsa.

“I might not have expressed myself very well. They might not have the best player in each position. But if we take, as a whole, number 15 (Harvey Barnes), number 10 (Matt Phillips), number 19 (Jay Rodriguez) and number 16 (Dwight Gayle), they are the best offensive players.

“If we take them as a whole you won’t find any other team with players as good as them.”

Assessing how important the defensive side of United’s game would be at The Hawthorns, Bielsa reasoned: “I think the challenge, the exam we’re going to pass this coming Saturday in the defensive segment, this exam we’re going to pass will strengthen our conclusions.

“But it’s also very important for us to keep our offensive identity even if we have to take into account the offensive capacity of the opponent and we have to take some precautions regarding this aspect.

“There is an old sentence that says the best way to defend is to attack.

“And if we want to refresh this sentence and if we want to give importance to the value of possession, in order to attack you need to have the ball.

“So we will try to have the ball and in order to strengthen this concept it’s important to prevent the opponent from counter attacking.

“Possession is important only if you prevent the opponent from counter attacking.”