Leeds

Leeds show they have plenty in the tank to secure Premier League survival

By Sean Walsh
Leeds picked up a crucial win against Burnley
Leeds picked up a crucial win against Burnley / George Wood/GettyImages
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Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United were the Premier League's darlings upon their return to the top flight last season.

While Whites fans were already in love with their own side, neutrals admired Leeds' bravery and ability to take the game to every side they faced - a breath of fresh air from those who yo-yo between the Premier League and the Championship.

But like most teams who break into the top flight and survive their first season, Leeds have succumbed to the dreaded 'second season syndrome'. At least they've had good reason for that; the squad has been reduced to the bare bones due to Covid-19 and injuries (for which Bielsa isn't blameless), while the return of fans will have had an impact.

Nevertheless, Leeds' first half of the 2021/22 campaign was well below par and they've been dragged into a relegation scrap, and could have ended the weekend only two points clear of 18th-place Burnley having played two more games.

Their meeting with the Clarets on Sunday was crucial if they were to stave off relegation fears - if Leeds couldn't rediscover their mojo against the side that would sit in against them most then they would really be in trouble.

But Bielsa's boys were bang up for the fight from the off, carving Burnley open just seconds after kick off and never letting up.

They grabbed a deserved lead through Jack Harrison just before the interval, but were pegged back the other side of half-time by Maxwel Cornet's delicious free kick (which goalkeeper Illan Meslier hardly covered himself in glory for).

Nevertheless, Leeds remained calm and continued to carve apart their visitors at will, eventually notching themselves back in front through Stuart Dallas and securing the three points in stoppage time - 5ft7 Dan James scored a header.

Of the 13 players that featured for Leeds on Sunday, only Meslier and Tyler Roberts weren't outstanding. Everyone did their job and sang in harmony with one another, with Leeds finally welcoming back their best players and looking themselves again.

And yet some of their key men are yet to return to lend their hand in this fight for survival, while Bielsa has insisted that only big-money signings would help improve the level of his beloved squad. This win was the shot in the arm that Leeds' season needed and they can start looking ahead to the rest of the campaign with fresh optimism.

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