Leeds tipped for European qualification after overtaking Arsenal in Premier League and Marcelo Bielsa’s side w – talkSPORT.com

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The only thing that will stop Leeds securing European football for next season is their defensive frailties, talkSPORT has been told.

Marcelo Bielsa’s side have thrived upon their return to the Premier League following a 16-year exile, while the other two promoted teams – West Brom and Fulham – are struggling and battling relegation.

Patrick Bamford scored his 100th career goal in the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace

AFP

Patrick Bamford scored his 100th career goal in the 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace

A 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Monday night saw the Yorkshire giants overtake Arsenal in the standings and seal a tenth league win of the season.

Leeds are aiming for their first top ten finish in English football since they finished fifth and qualified for the UEFA Cup in 2001/02 under David O’Leary.

And while they have displayed frequent lapses of concentration at the back, most recently in a 2-1 defeat at home to Everton last week, their attractive brand of football has seen them pick up plenty of admirers along the way this campaign.

And one of them is talkSPORT host Ally McCoist, who says Bielsa’s side are one of the best promoted sides in recent years.

“They do leave themselves open defensively, but they’re a great side,” the former Rangers striker said on Tuesday’s talkSPORT Breakfast.

“Can they finish in Europe? I’m not sure, but the way this season is going anything can happen.

“The way they’ve been playing they’re more than capable of winning three, four, five games out of six and getting themselves into that position.

Leeds have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with under Marcelo Bielsa’s stewardship

AFP

Leeds have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with under Marcelo Bielsa’s stewardship

“I think they’ll finish mid-table, which will be more than acceptable for them, but you wouldn’t rule [Europe] out because of the way they play.

“They just look as though there’s nothing stopping them at this moment in time. They’re one of the better sides that have come up in recent years.”

He continued: “I know Sheffield United did brilliant [last season], but Leeds in terms of the players they have and going forward – you look at what a signing Raphinha has been… what about that touch of skill on the touchline last night? Poor Gary Cahill, I think he struck oil.

“He’s been tremendous and [Jack] Harrison has been chipping in, [Stuart] Dallas is a good footballer and Kalvin Phillips deservedly gets a lot of credit in the middle of the park.

“They’ve been great, they’ve been everything we’d hoped they’d be in terms of their entertainment value. I like watching good football and I like watching Leeds United, so I can suffer the little blips they have defensively.”

Ally McCoist is a big fan of Raphinha – who produced an incredible nutmeg on Palace’s Gary Cahill on Monday night

Ally McCoist is a big fan of Raphinha – who produced an incredible nutmeg on Palace’s Gary Cahill on Monday night

The five best Premier League finishes by newly-promoted clubs

5. 1999/00 – Sunderland – 7th – 58 points – 1.53 PPG

4. 2000/01 – Ipswich – 5th – 66 points – 1.74 PPG

3. 1992/93 – Blackburn – 4th – 71 points – 1.69 PPG

2. 1993/94 – Newcastle – 3rd – 77 points – 1.83 PPG (42-game season)

1. 1994/95 – Notts Forest – 3rd – 77 points – 1.83 PPG

Speaking on Monday night’s Sports Bar, former Chelsea defender Jason Cundy expressed his belief that Leeds can finish in the top eight come May.

He explained: “They’re a good side, Leeds. They’re a really good side. I love watching them go forward.

“But I said the other week when they defend at times – and I think there’s a balance between when you’ve got the ball and when you don’t have the ball that Bielsa at times could get the balance a little better.

“They’ll probably be top half, but there’s no reason why they can’t get top eight, other than sometimes you look at their results and think how did that happen?

“Their defending for the goal they conceded against Everton last week; I mean my god! It was so easy.

“But if they can get that other side right they can be as good as they want to be.”

talkSPORT favourite Simon Jordan also heaped praise on the Whites while in conversation with Jim White on Tuesday.

Simon Jordan was in typically fine form on Tuesday

News Group Newspapers Ltd

Simon Jordan was in typically fine form on Tuesday

He said: “I made a comment earlier this season that certain Leeds fans seemed to take to heart as whenever you say something that doesn’t concur with everyone’s view – everyone goes binary – you’re either a berk or a hero.

“I watched them against Everton and if I needed a bit of convincing about how compelling a watch they are I got that.

“I’m not convinced they can defend properly – and that’s something they need to address.

“But as far as an attacking proposition goes, they are irresistible, easy on the eye and something to watch.

“There’s no reason why Leeds won’t be up there, but Wolves have gone into the Premier League and had immense wealth behind them and they’re suffering this season. There’s no given [for any side].”

Quizzed by White if they can maintain their current position and potentially push on to clinch a spot in Europe, Jordan responded: “It’s not a false position. They are where they are.

“The Premier League is a little bit different than Premier League’s that have gone before for a variety of reasons. They are there on merit and they are there because they’re a good side.

“They’ve got a very good coach and a very interesting owner who is a vast departure from some of the owners Leeds have had over the recent years.

“Their aim is to build a worldwide brand that has the sort of reach and feel that Liverpool has.

“It’s a tall order; but I don’t feel that Leeds will succumb to some of the challenges that Sheffield United have had.

“And that’s not because Sheffield United are a poor relation of that part of Yorkshire, it’s simply because the set up of the club feel different to me.”

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