Leeds United might have silver lining heading to Chelsea and keep the faith in Marcelo Bielsa's Whites - David Prutton

Leeds United have got an absolutely brutal run of games coming up - today’s clash at Chelsea followed by trips to Manchester City and Liverpool either side of a home clash against Arsenal.

By David Prutton
Saturday, 11th December 2021, 4:45 am

Things are going to be terrifically hard for them but returning to the Premier League was never going to be straightforward.

But there are obviously mitigating circumstances now in terms of new injuries which make matters even more difficult.

We have talked for so long recently about Patrick Bamford being missing and he even gave the crowd a lift when he was warming up during last weekend’s draw against Brentford at Elland Road.

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MAIN MAN: But Chelsea's £97.5m striker Romelu Lukaku, above, has only recently returned from injury ahead of Saturday's clash against Leeds United at Stamford Bridge. Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images.

Leeds also welcomed Luke Ayling back from injury against the Bees so two real key parts of their weaponry.

But now Bamford, Kalvin Phillips, Liam Cooper and Rodrigo are all out injured in addition to Robin Koch who has been unwell.

It’s not quite panic stations because we have always seen a team here that is greater than the sum of its parts but these are really key men missing now.

You are not just looking at players that fit the Premier League there but also very big personalities as well, Coops and his leadership skills and Kalvin’s as well along with the tempo that he sets in the middle of the park.

If you looked at it from a timing point of view, it couldn’t be any worse with regards to who they are playing and those particular players that are out.

But there can be no licking wounds and no feeling sorry for themselves because of what the Premier League is, because it is such a thrilling level of football and because the standard goes up year on year.

Because of that it has the potential to come up and wallop you where it hurts several times on the bounce which is what this feels like I suppose if you are a Leeds fan.

But we should just trust what Leeds United are and what they are capable of when they are at full strength.

Without sounding too twee about it, all the players can do is give their absolute all.

You can talk about cup finals and promotion runs and relegation saving runs of form but this little period of games could be hero-making for whoever steps in and manages to get Leeds the points that gives the a good platform going into 2022.

Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa has highlighted how adversity can sometimes produce a strong reaction from teams and I think he is right.

If you look at it in psychological terms, mind expanding terms and character building terms for this team then when it does appear to be a first team that is on its knees somewhat, there is a real period of growth to be had.

I am sure there will be more cynical fans out there and you have to tinge this with an air of realism which is that to play the best teams you need your best team playing as best as it possibly can.

There is no short-cutting that with regards to what top level football is all about but Marcelo has got to say what he has said.

If he turned around and had the hump about what he had at his disposal then that bleeds into the group and doesn’t do anybody any good.

Then you do end up in a position where doubts creep in and weaknesses can be exacerbated so I think Marcelo is right.

I appreciate what he is like as a man-manager and he knows his squad inside out regardless of whether it is the so-called first teamers or whether it is the more fringe type players.

This is undoubtedly a tough run of games for Leeds but there is absolutely no hiding place and they have got to play these games, get through them and show that they have got the mettle to be able to work through this particular tough period.

Leeds have Chelsea and City away from home in the space of four days and that is absolutely brutal.

But there’s no way around it and no way of being able to miss any of that out.

We know what Chelsea have been able to do and we also know that at times they have been got at.

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has given them a rocket by saying he has not been happy with how they have been performing with regards to letting goals in and letting leads slip so they will be right on it.

Then Leeds go to Manchester City who can demolish the best teams in Europe so let’s not kid ourselves into thinking anything other than the fact it will be one hell of a battle.

Romelu Lukaku is now back for Chelsea and if he comes back and hits the ground running then he is coming back at the wrong time from a Leeds point of view, absolutely.

But if he is in a position where he is still working his way back up to full fitness then that is a very small silver lining for Leeds to keep a hold of.

But we saw Leeds go and beat Manchester City last season.

Of course you can look at the personnel available and say it is slightly different now and I absolutely understand that.

But there is absolutely no place to hide at most levels of professional football and even more so in the Premier League given the attention and focus on it and given how big this football club Leeds United is and feels it is.

It’s all a constant test of character.

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Thank you Laura Collins