It quickly became a desperate situation at Leeds last season, with relegation becoming a genuine possibility. But, the hierarchy decided to make a change in the dugout, replacing the fan’s favourite Marcelo Bielsa with Jesse Marsch, which inspired the team to go on and retain their top-flight status. However, after talisman Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha headed for pastures new this summer, many expected another season of struggle.
Undoubtedly, both Phillips and Raphinha have been significant players for Leeds of late. And you could say they were very much the stars of the show. But, what many will also argue is that there was a lack of quality across the board, with it being more a case of several individuals standing out. So, when the opportunity came to generate near £100 million for the sales of Phillips to City and Raphinha to Barcelona combined came along, the sales were improved with the team in mind.
This summer has seen Brenden Aaronson, Luis Sinisterra, Tyler Adams, Rasmus Kristensen and Marc Roca all arrive, adding quality and strength in depth in defence and midfield specifically. While two key men have departed, there have been five high-quality arrivals, and there are potentially more to come, with Marsch wanting to add more firepower to his squad. While there is then the concerns over players from abroad needing time to gel, on paper, Leeds are more robust, and this has been proven in their three results so far.
On the opening day of the new campaign, Leeds ran out 2-1 winners against an impressive Wolves side. And they followed that up with a respectable 2-2 draw away at Southampton. As everyone knows, Elland Road is a fortress, and it’s going to need to continue being the cauldron that it is if Leeds are going to rack up the points on home soil. After the Southampton game, Chelsea were the visitors, a team expected to be pushing for the top four under manager Thomas Tuchel.
But, from the first whistle, Leeds looked more like the team pushing for a Champions League berth, with Tuchel’s side looking uncomfortable with the high-energy band of football that Leeds were going with on the day. It was Aaronson who opened the scoring after a rare error from Edouard Mendy, who attempted to dribble out with the ball but was closed down and robbed by the American, who had the easy job of tapping home.
And on thirty-seven minutes, Rodrigo doubled the lead with a well-timed header before the in-form attacker repaid the favour to Jack Harrison, who supplied his goal, with an assist for him to make it 3-0. Leeds, at times, were unplayable, and it was their high press and high octane football that Chelsea couldn’t live with. It was evidenced further when Kalidou Koulibaly saw red for a second yellow after being done for pace late in the second half. It’s a new but more rounded Leeds, and they’re flying as a result.