Marcelo Bielsa hopes Burnley clash will help get Leeds’ season back on track

Leeds enjoyed a superb 2020-21 campaign but have won only three league games this season.
Marcelo Bielsa hopes Burnley clash will help get Leeds’ season back on track

By George Sessions, PA

Marcelo Bielsa believes Sunday’s match at home to Burnley is a great opportunity for Leeds to turn their Premier League campaign around.

After flourishing upon their return to the top flight last season, which culminated in an impressive ninth-place finish, the Elland Road outfit have struggled during the current term and won only three times.

Injuries have blighted Leeds in recent months and their last two fixtures were postponed following Covid-19 cases, adding to an already lengthy list of absentees, but this weekend is being viewed as a chance to get back on track.

Bielsa said: “Every game that we play from here on out will be important, and the ones we’ve played beforehand are the ones that position us where we are.

“The game on Sunday is a great opportunity to redirect where the campaign is going.”

Six points separate Leeds and visiting Burnley, who are in the bottom three and held Bielsa’s side to a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor in August.

While last season’s top goalscorer Patrick Bamford has only played seven times in the Premier League this season and Kalvin Phillips is now out until March with a hamstring issue, the former Argentina boss remains determined not to use the club’s injury problems as an excuse.

The 66-year-old spoke openly last month about how he is not immune from being sacked and expressed his disappointment with his own coaching level during the 2021-22 campaign.

Asked to reflect on the last year, Bielsa said: “The evaluation of my task in these last few months is negative.

“The situations we have had to go through, I wasn’t able to resolve them as I thought I would.

“The majority of the things that happened I thought could happen and I imagined resources would resolve them, but evidently those resources weren’t the adequate ones.

“Even if there was a high percentage of injuries, and those are things you can’t pre-empt, even less in the proportion in what it was, the rest of the things that define the lowering of performance I thought that they could happen and I wasn’t able to resolve them.”

Bielsa was more positive about the continued support the team and himself receive from the Elland Road faithful.

Defeat at home to Arsenal two weeks ago ended their five-match unbeaten run at their own ground.

“Every time that we’ve played at home, the public has always been an element that improves and pushes on the team to be in a better state of mood,” Bielsa said.

“I think the support the Leeds fans have for the team is unconditional and it is not common in these times to conserve that recognition from the fans even when the team is losing.”

After having their two matches over the festive period with Liverpool and Aston Villa postponed, the Whites are set to welcome Junior Firpo, Diego Llorente and Dan James back on Sunday.

Jack Harrison will also feature after his early withdrawal against Arsenal and Patrick Bamford (hamstring) will be assessed.

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