Marcelo Bielsa lauds Leeds United as they finally prove his pre-season suspicion against Tottenham Hotspur
Marcelo Bielsa declared Leeds United's 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur one of the Whites' best of the season.
The Argentine watched his men bounce back in perfect fashion from last weekend's disappointing display in the defeat to Brighton, Stuart Dallas, Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo getting on the scoresheet to deliver a hammer blow to Spurs' top four hopes.
Leeds defended and attacked with aggression and were well worth their win, although the visitors felt aggrieved to have a goal chalked off for offside, VAR deciding Harry Kane's toe was beyond the last defender before he ran in to beat Illan Meslier.
What perhaps made it all the more eyecatching a result was that Bielsa stuck with the exact team who started at Brighton, captain Liam Cooper missing out with a glute problem as Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha returned only to the bench.
"Considering the fortitude of the opponent and the way we attacked and defended and the possibility to play pretty much on equal terms, it is one of the best of the season," said Bielsa, whose men will finish the season unbeaten at home against the 'big six.'
"The performance in the last game was an unexpected one for us. I think the level of production didn't correspond to the level of the players we had on the field so I thought it was considered to maintain the same 11 players. Raphinha hadn't played in a while and Phillips only returned to training prior to the game."
Bielsa admitted he had thought before the season that it was possible his newly-promoted men would be able compete as equals against a top side and he was satisfied they achieved just that against Tottenham.
"I am never confident, I always think it's possible that we can compete as equals," he said.
"I always evaluate what we're capable of and what we're coming up against. In football it's very difficult to predict. You see after a game like the one in Brighton it comes and then we play like this.
"For a while now we hope to play on an equal term with an important opponent. In some ways today we achieved this."
There were impressive performances all over the pitch for Leeds but Gjanni Alioski, who was hooked at half-time at Brighton having conceded a penalty and struggled to perform, shone against Gareth Bale et al.
He was bright and adventurous on the ball, looked after it well and worked tirelessly to win it back.
Bielsa has seen improvement in the North Macedonian, who is out of contract this summer and has not yet signed the deal on the table at Elland Road.
"He's a player with a lot of experience, he's been playing in the left full-back position for quite some time now and more than better or worse performances, he's clearly had a path which has been an ascension," said the head coach.
"He's improved a lot in decision making."
Alioski featured on the left side of a back line who, along with defensive midfielder Robin Koch, all managed to impress their boss.
"Today was a very difficult game for Llorente, Struijk and Koch," said Bielsa.
"Pascal had a performance without errors, Llorente the same, very solid to defend and secure in the management of the ball. Robin was one of the bright lights of the game. He defended well and he didn't lose the ball. The three of them alongside the two full-backs, they had the task of neutralising the sector where Tottenham had their best players."