Luke Ayling says Leeds ‘have learnt a lot’ since promotion

Defender Luke Ayling believes Leeds are finally starting to find their feet in the Premier League.

The 1-0 victory at Everton, the early pace-setters in September and October, was only their third of the campaign but having taken points off Carlo Ancelotti’s side, Manchester City, Arsenal and run defending champions Liverpool close there are positive feelings at Elland Road following the side’s promotion.

“We’ve been working with (Marcelo Bielsa) for the last two years. It’s the third year of his reign now,” said Ayling.

“Our first eight games was always going to be a learning curve. I think we’ve learnt a lot from those eight games.

“I think we have a reputation of being a fit team but I thought our football was excellent.

“I think we’re starting to play more football and not just try to be hard to beat. So far, so good.”

Ayling added to BBC Sport: “I know quite a lot of people say it, but it is a dream for us to be playing at this level. We were in League One and in the Championship for many years, so to be in the Premier League is what we dreamt of as kids.

“I hope we can keep playing good football and keep this going.”

Bielsa’s side have earned a reputation for creating plenty of chances and this game was no exception, contributing 23 shots to the overall tally of 38 over the 90 minutes.

In the Premier League this season, only Leeds’ win at Aston Villa in October has produced more attempts (39).

One criticism is that the side have not been clinical enough and it took them until the 80th minute to eventually break the deadlock thanks to new signing Raphinha’s first goal for the club.

With man-of-the-match Kalvin Phillips pulling the strings due to their hosts’ reluctance to close him down, the Brazilian forward was a constant threat and his 25-yard strike was the fourth Everton have conceded from outside the penalty area, the most in the Premier League this season.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had one of his better games against Leeds
Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford had one of his better games against Leeds

Manager Carlo Ancelotti could not apportion any blame to Jordan Pickford, watched by his England boss Gareth Southgate, as the goalkeeper had one of his better matches this season with good saves from Patrick Bamford and Raphinha in the first half in particular.

“It was a strange shot because Ben Godfrey was close to the ball, Jordan didn’t see the ball because it was close to the body of Godfrey and it was difficult to save,” said the Italian after a fourth defeat in five matches.

“It was true Jordan did a fantastic save in two or three opportunities.”