Leeds United match last season’s flying start

MARCELO BIELSA called for calm after Leeds matched last season’s start to the campaign.
Take that: Stuart Dallas scores the opening goal for Leeds. Picture: Simon HulmeTake that: Stuart Dallas scores the opening goal for Leeds. Picture: Simon Hulme
Take that: Stuart Dallas scores the opening goal for Leeds. Picture: Simon Hulme

Championship leaders Leeds eventually tore bottom-of-the-table Potters to shreds with Stuart Dallas, Gjanni Alioski and Patrick Bamford finishing impressive free-flowing moves.

The Whites have won four of their first five games and they drew the other with Nottingham Forest.

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Head coach Bielsa gave a glowing assessment when asked where the football United are playing compares to what was seen last term.

United spent the majority of last season inside the Championship’s automatic promotion places only to fall away in the final month and finish third before suffering a heart-breaking play-off semi-final defeat to Derby County.

“We are playing with the same ideas as last year, but losing the ball less,” said Bielsa. “We are spending more time with the ball than without it and we are not losing the ball very easily. We are suffering less counter-attacks.

“This is the same idea of the team, but maybe with more spontaneous behaviours in the team and more natural behaviours in the team.”

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Reflecting on United’s start, Bielsa said: “It is always positive to get points. But we have to calmly analyse the future. It’s very difficult to predict what can happen. Positive results will have an influence on the team.”

Stoke at least battled until Leeds carved them open in the 42nd minute, with Dallas rounding off a sublime series of one-touch passes.

The second half was all United, with Alioski and Bamford completing a rout that could have been worse but for some fine saves from Adam Federici, who had replaced benched England goalkeeper Jack Butland.

“It seems when something goes against them, they mentally go,” said under-pressure Stoke manager Nathan Jones of his players.

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“When the first goal went in we seemed to lose all the belief that we tried to instil in them.”

“Leeds had far more guile and steel, which we don’t have.

“They were relentless, absolutely relentless. That’s a mentality and an athleticism. We’re not there yet, we’re not at that level.”

Stoke City: Federici, Collins, Carter-Vickers (Allen 73), Lindsay, Edwards, Cousins, Etebo, Clucas, McClean, Duffy (Hogan 60), Gregory (Ince 73). Unused substitutes: Butland, Batth, Smith, Campbell.

Leeds United: Casilla, White, Phillips, Berardi, Dallas, Klich (Shackleton 85), Forshaw, Alioski, Hernandez (Helder Costa 80), Bamford (Nketiah 74), Harrison. Unused substitutes: Meslier, McCalmont, Gotts, Struijk.

Referee: D England (South Yorkshire).