Marcelo Bielsa has explained his decision to axe Ezgjan Alioski and Lewis Baker at half-time in last night’s victory, with the Leeds United head-coach insisting that he didn’t feel either player played badly.
Leeds edged past Reading with an improved second-half performance, with Bielsa’s introduction of Samu Saiz and Jack Clarke giving the Whites more edge in attack.
That duo replaced Alioski and Baker, who for 45 minutes were anonymous, minus the former’s deserved booking for diving.
Following the game Bielsa offered an update on why both were axed, highlighting the way Leeds had defended Andy Yiadom on their left side.
“On the right side we defended better. That was not the case on the left. That’s why I thought I had to make modifications in this sector of the pitch,” the 63-year-old told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“The two players I took out of the game were playing on the left side. Baker started very well in the game but in the sector where he was playing there was a lot of density. Douglas didn’t play as offensively with Alioski as he’s used to doing.”
The meticulous Argentinian then went on to discuss the change he made, which helped Leeds turn the screw on their opponents, he continued:
“My intention was to find the right balance on both sides but I don’t think that Alioski or Baker’s performances were bad.
“I just wanted to use players with different attributes to see if we could play as deep on the left as on the right.”
It was Stuart Dallas’ goal that proved to be the difference, with the makeshift right-back forcing home a Barry Douglas cross midway through the second-half.
The Whites were then bailed out by Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who produced a stunning penalty save in the final minute to deny Marc McNulty.
Attention at Elland Road will now switch to Saturday’s trip to Bramall Lane, with Leeds going up against Sheffield United.
Neither Alioski or Baker were effective in the first-half and both struggled to deal with Yiadom’s running from full-back.
Bielsa’s changes worked, with his explanation of them fair.
The Argentinian isn’t going to want to publically criticise either player who were taken off at half-time, but Leeds improved with Saiz and Clarke on the pitch.
Both will be pushing for a start at Bramall Lane.
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