Could Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds cut it in the Premier League?


You may be reading the title of this article and think this is a premature question to ask given that Leeds still have nine games left of their season and they still have to navigate the pitfalls of COVID-19 and the disruption it is causing.

There are many questions to be answered as far as the Coronavirus goes and what type of impact it will have on world football. The news that fixtures are being postponed is not necessarily a bad one for the West Yorkshire side as it should theoretically, give them a chance to seal the deal when the Championship commences again on the 3rd of April.

The extra break may well be a positive when you think about how much Marcelo Bielsa demands of his team. In fact, fresh legs should be enough to avoid any potential playoff heartbreak as Leeds suffered in 2019 at the hands of Derby.

All things being equal, this Leeds team is certainly the best in the Championship and have shown that they can play football at a level far higher than that of England’s second tier, but can they cut it in the Premier League?

Bielsaball is made for the Premier League

Leeds play with one of the highest tempos in the whole of England and are only behind Manchester City in the top four professional leagues as far as possession goes for the season, even then it is still close with Pep Guardiola’s men coming in at 62%, and Bielsa’s at 60%.

According to an interview Betway conducted with Felipe Anderson, Angelo Ogbonna and Carlos Sanchez, the speed of play in the Premier League is a lot quicker than Serie A and is actually the quickest they have experienced in their careers. Leeds’ ability to control games with how they retain possession as well as effective high pressing that either wins possession high up the pitch or forces them to be more direct means they will be well suited to the Premier League.

To maintain such a high possession rate over the course of 37 games you have to outrun the opposition and Leeds also do just that. It’s not just Championship opposition but also Premier League as was shown in Leeds’ 1-0 FA Cup loss to Arsenal in January. The tactical analysis from that game at the Emirates shows that Leeds completely dominated the first half and should have been at least three goals up at half time.

This does lead us onto the Achilles heel of this Leeds side and that is not taking their chances. The misfiring that took place in North London at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium was certainly not a once-off. More expert tactical analysis from Leeds’ loss to Charlton at the Valley proves that and does a superb job of showing how the Whites can become unstuck when the opposition loads the box with defenders for 90 minutes.

For all of the Champagne football that Leeds play, they are guilty of missing sitter after sitter. Some Leeds fans may argue that is because of Patrick Bamford and his inability to convert in front of goal, as true as that may well be, Leeds will have to make sure they find a way to score goals in the Premier League or else they face an uncertain first season in the top flight.

It’s just a matter of getting there

With a seven-point gap over third and unbeaten in five games where they didn’t concede even one goal, you can see why the Elland Road side are favourites to go up on Betway.

The fall of the West Yorkshire giants has been well documented but mercifully for the legion of Leeds fans, their 16-year hiatus looks to be coming to an end. Many people have asked whether Bielsa can get Leeds promoted and finally, it looks like we may have a clearer answer. It’s just a matter of getting there for Leeds, once they do, they will fly.