Marcelo Bielsa expects sterner test against Tottenham

Mark Walker, PA
·2-min read

Marcelo Bielsa expects a tougher test of his footballing principles on Saturday when Leeds bid to halt their London hoodoo against Tottenham.

Bielsa has stuck steadfastly to his offensive game plan in the face of heavy criticism following his side’s recent 6-2 defeat at Manchester United.

He has been rewarded with back-to-back wins and two clean sheets against Burnley and West Brom, but acknowledged Leeds, who have not won in the capital in over three years, face a step up in class.

“With respect to Tottenham and the way they’re playing, they’re a very difficult team to face,” Bielsa said.

“In every position they have solid, good players, they have options, they have strikers who can unbalance and they’re very clear on how they want to play.

“It’s a team in which you can clearly see the influence of the manager, they’re very competitive.”

Leeds’ London jinx stretches back to December 2017 when they won 3-1 at QPR and they have lost at Crystal Palace and Chelsea since returning to the Premier League.

Jamie Shackleton, left, has started in one of his eight Premier League appearances this season
Jamie Shackleton, left, has started in one of his eight Premier League appearances this season (Nick Potts/PA)

Midfielder Jamie Shackleton could be handed a rare start if Mateusz Klich fails to recover in time from the thigh strain that forced him off during the 5-0 win at West Brom in midweek.

Skipper Liam Cooper remains doubtful after missing the last two games with an abdominal injury, so Kalvin Phillips may have to continue in central defence.

Robin Koch is recovering from knee surgery and it remains to be seen whether fellow centre-half Diego Llorente can return to contention after his recent setback.

Bielsa, who has been unable to put a timescale on Cooper’s expected return, has not ruled out adding to his squad in the January transfer window.

“I can’t give you a firm answer, I can’t say yes or no,” he said.

“If there’s a player that clearly improves the squad then obviously that would be good for the club.

“The option to bring a great player to the club sometimes depends on the needs of the team, but sometimes opportunities arise.

“In this sense, Victor Orta (director of football) has a way of working which usually benefits the team.”