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Leeds United

Marsch compares style to Leeds predecessor Bielsa ahead of Chelsea challenge

21:41 WAT 19/08/2022
Jesse Marsch Leeds 2021-22
The American coach is happy with the way Leeds are developing since he took charge of the Premier League side

Leeds manager Jesse Marsch says he wants his team to be "really aggressive" as he compared his playing style to predecessor Marcelo Bielsa. The American coach replaced Argentine at the helm of the Premier League side in February and managed to guide them to safety in the division.

The 2022-23 campaign will be his first full season in charge of the Elland Road club and he is working hard to get the team playing his preferred style.

What did Marsch say about Leeds?

Leeds are unbeaten after two games in the current campaign, having beaten Wolves 2-1 before drawing 2-2 with Southampton last week.

Marsch is happy with the way his side have played so far as he noted what is different about their strategy since he replaced Bielsa.

"In the Wolves game, we far out-sprinted them and with high intensity, but the heat in Southampton was a major factor," Marsch told Sky Sports.

"If you look overall, actually, when I came in, our sprints and high intensity were higher than they were under Marcelo.

"But Marcelo had far more accelerations and decelerations - and that's partly down to [Bielsa's style of] man-marking, where you're following guys and trying to stay ahead of them - cutting and changing direction a lot.

"But, with us, what we want to be is really aggressive, and in pressing moments, which requires sprinting. We also want to be very good in transitions, both ways, which also requires sprinting.

"I believe in young players, so we've purposely built the squad in the manner we have because we want to develop our entire group. We also need young legs to play the way we want. But, believing in young players isn't just about blind belief, it's about them establishing themselves and then us challenging and instructing them on how to grow.

"One of the things you do see, is our numbers against the ball are higher, but lower with the ball - because Marcelo wanted a lot of running around and I want a bit more positional play. Still dynamic movement, but a little bit more disciplined in the holding positions than what he wanted. Believe me, I look very closely at these things!"

Marsch excited by Chelsea challenge

Leeds hope to defend their unbeaten start to the season this week, but a mammoth task awaits them as they welcome Chelsea to Elland Road.

But Marsch says he knows how the big stars at the Blues play, whereas the London team will be less familiar with his players.

"The Premier League is watched by everyone, so I don't have to explain to the new players who [Kalidou] Koulibaly is, who [Edouard] Mendy is, Mason Mount - they know these players, inside and out. That's an advantage. Maybe Chelsea need more time to understand us!

"When I was going through the scouting videos with the team today, I started saying: 'Yeah, he's a good player' and then: 'They're all good', so, obviously, if you take a player like Jorginho, what I like about him is it's not just that he's technically and tactically so gifted, he's also so intelligent.

"But you could go down the list! Koulibaly was always one of my favourite centre-backs. We played against him in Salzburg when he was at Napoli and then, of course, Chelsea pick him up - in the way Chelsea do with their ability to evaluate talent and having the resources to get them."

He added:  watched Chelsea's first two games carefully and I was impressed that they almost played with two different systems, and in two different ways, and it can always be a good thing.

"Thomas Tuchel was right in saying after the match, saying it was a brilliant match for them, because they played really well and were very clear in all phases of the game.

"And now it's our job to make them not be so comfortable, that's why we like to play against the ball and play intense, pressing football, because we want to make, even the best opponents, a little bit more uncomfortable than they usually are.

"Things will have to go our way on the day, we have to be at our absolute best, but we like our team and it's a good time to have an exam like this.

"So, the challenges for a match like this are very big for us, but I'm excited about it. I'm excited because I believe we have a team that's more prepared for what this challenge will be and I think we have a chance."