Marcelo Bielsa still waiting for Leeds United to compete with top six as 'equals' ahead of Liverpool visit

MARCELO Bielsa says Leeds United still cannot compete with the top six as equals - despite recent results suggesting otherwise.

By Lee Sobot
Friday, 16th April 2021, 5:45 am

Bielsa’s Whites will take in their latest test against an established Premier League big gun on Monday night when the country’s defending champions Liverpool arrive at Elland Road.

Jurgen Klopp’s Reds provided United’s very first opponents upon their return to the Premier League in last September’s clash at Anfield in which a Mo Salah hat-trick saw the hosts edge a 4-3 thriller.

Leeds were back with a defeat but back with a bang and their next big test came against title favourites Manchester City, who were held to a 1-1 draw in an Elland-Road epic of attack versus attack more akin to a game of basketball.

NOT THERE YET: Says Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa, right, when it comes to competing with the division's big six as equals, despite taking four points off Manchester City and Pep Guardiola, left. Photo by RUI VIEIRA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Yet Bielsa then saw his side suffer defeat or frustration in their next tests against Premier League powerhouses as part of a run which included a 4-1 defeat at home to Leicester City a 3-1 reverse at Chelsea, a 6-2 hammering at Manchester United and a 3-0 loss at Tottenham Hotspur.

Leeds took a point against Arsenal in amongst that run after a goalless draw at Elland Road but Bielsa found himself facing a question about the fact that United had savoured only one victory against any side in the division’s current top eight ahead of last weekend’s clash at champions elect Manchester City.

Leeds, though, caused their biggest stir yet as they left the Etihad with a 2-1 victory, despite playing over half of the game with 10 men.

United’s record against the big guns was suddenly looking rather more impressive considering they also recorded a 3-1 victory at Leicester City at the end of January and then held high-flying Chelsea to a 0-0 draw.

Yet Bielsa insists his side still have to prove they can compete as equals against the division’s best sides and says only time will tell when the Whites can be consistent challengers at the top end of the table and vie for a place in Europe.

Bielsa reasoned: “If we guide ourselves from what’s happened this season, from the results or performances, we can see that against the traditional top six, only against Arsenal were we able to play as equals, in the first half of the first game we played against them at home.

“The second half of that game we played with one man more.

“In the game against Manchester United, we did not deserve a better result than the one we obtained. Perhaps, the margin should not have been so high, but they still deserved their win, the same with Tottenham.

“The two Chelsea games were difficult for us, especially the first one.

“The draw against Chelsea was a draw that we deserved but, in a game where they dominated, we did not deserve to win it.

“The two games against City, the game we played against them at home, the draw, was a fair one and in the first half of this game against City they were better than us and in the second half we were a man down.

“So my conclusions are not the same as yours because we haven’t been able to play as equals against the traditional top six of the Premier League.

“To anticipate when this will happen is not prudent.

“These types of things, more than announcing them, you have to demonstrate them and up until now we haven’t managed it.”

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Thank you Laura Collins