Trends & Features

Leeds United’s Fitness Gives Cause For Optimisim

Leeds United have been earning plaudits for their fitness since their return to the Premier League in 2020 and it continues to be a great strength of the Whites.

After an impressive 3-0 win over Chelsea in the Premier League at Elland Road in August, Leeds will be hoping their fitness levels can help them challenge higher up the table this season.

Marsch Building On Bielsa’s Foundations

Former Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa was instrumental in changing the club’s philosophy on not just their style of play but also on fitness. Leeds, who were considered before the start of this season as candidates for relegation in many Premiership betting tips, enjoyed a superb first season back in the top flight in 2020/21 to finish ninth.

‘Second-season syndrome’ hit Leeds hard the following year and Bielsa saw his time at Elland Road brought to an end with 12 games of the campaign remaining. American coach Jesse Marsch was tasked with helping Leeds avoid the dreaded drop back down to the Championship and he did just that on the final day of the season with a 2-1 win at Brentford.

Even during the latter stages of Bielsa’s reign at Elland Road, when results were not going Leeds’ way, the side was still outrunning most teams in the division. When Marsch came and adapted the style to his liking, the need for pressing the opponent and high-energy football remained. Marsch has made Leeds a tougher side to break down since his arrival in West Yorkshire and the Whites’ already instilled fitness levels have made that a smoother transition than many might have thought.

Chelsea Win Shows Leeds’ Potential

While it is still the early stages of the 2022/23 Premier League season, a 3-0 win on home soil against title-contenders Chelsea was a statement victory for the Whites. At one stage of the second half, it was reported Leeds had collectively run 10 kilometres further than their rivals from west London. While Blues boss Thomas Tuchel was keen to play down the fact his side was outrun by such a distance had an impact on the result, Marsch was eager to talk up his side’s efforts.

With top-class players and many who had helped win a Champions League trophy under Tuchel in 2021, Leeds needed to outwork Chelsea to have any chance of a positive result at Elland Road. They did just that to go unbeaten in their first three league games of the season and at that stage move into the top four in the table. For a team that came so close to the drop last season, and one that lost some key players in the summer window, the first three games raised expectations of what Leeds can achieve this season.

While there may well be dips in form at some stages of the campaign, Leeds fitness should mean they will be a threat from the first to the last minute whenever they take the field.

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