Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


'They are in a better position under Jesse Marsch' | Gary Breen on Leeds United

It is still all to play for for Leeds United, in spite of their 2-1 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, according to Gary Breen.

It is still all to play for for Leeds United, in spite of their 2-1 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday, according to former Republic of Ireland defender Gary Breen.

Leeds fell back into the bottom three, behind Burnley, after the loss to Arsenal on Sunday. They are now level on 34 points with Burnley, and one point behind Everton in the relegation zone, with Watford and Norwich City both already confirmed to be going down.

With three matches left for Leeds this season, Jesse Marsch's men face a fight for Premier League survival and their fates not entirely in their own hands.

However, Breen believes that all three of Everton, Leeds and Burnley could realistically stay up with some strong performances, and Leeds are in a good position to stay up.

Speaking after performing commentary duties for Off The Ball on Sunday, Breen expressed admiration for how Leeds came back in the game against Arsenal, especially after Luke Ayling was sent off early in the match.

"I don't think many people would have given Leeds much of a chance with the type of form that Arsenal had been in," Breen said.

"But had they had the XI men, they could have gotten something out of the game."

Breen believes that Leeds can still do enough in their remaining matches against Chelsea, Brighton and Brentford respectively in order to stay up.

"I look at the situation down at the bottom," Breen said. "Everton won today. We were hoping Leeds would do something to take advantage of the fact that Burnley dropped points.

"I still think all three of those teams are still in it. Leeds have been clawed back into [the relegation spots] again when it looked like they were in a good position.

"With three games to go, I've been in this situation, anything can happen and it's still all to play for!"

Leeds now know how to stay in a game

Leeds fired Marcelo Bielsa earlier in the season, after a string of poor performances. While some have criticised the new manager Marsch, Breen feels that his tactics have helped Leeds learn how to stay in games.

"I think they they are in a better position now under Jesse Marsch in terms of how organised they are," Breen said. "How they can stay in a game.

"I have seen them at times this season, against Watford away, they were under pressure in the second half of that game. It was tightly balanced at the time.

"They stayed in the game, stayed behind the goal, and then comfortably saw it out. So, that bodes well for them. They are learning how to compete at this level and not give the game up so easily as they were doing under Pep Guardiola."

Returning players could make the difference

The Whites have not had the best run with regards to injuries. They lost their top scorer of the previous season Patrick Bamford earlier in the season, and have stressed over the fitness of Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper recently as well.

However, those players are coming back at just the right time.

"Certain players are coming back," Breen said. "[Kalvin] Philips was there again today. It was a difficult task for him because I thought Arsenal were magnificent in the midfield today.

"Him being back, and you'd hope that [Liam] Cooper can recover from his injury, whether or not [Patrick] Bamford comes back it remains to be seen.

"He is such an important player considering the amount of goals he got for them last season, so he's been a huge miss."

Bamford is the key player for Leeds. While Philips has been linked to a move to Manchester United, Bamford's striking prowess has made him a desirable player for many other Premier League clubs as well.

The striker was last seen in Leeds' 3-2 win over Wolverhampton in March. However, he is expected back in training this week.

"As a player, he's been looking at his teammates and the struggles they've been having and he'll be desperate to get back out there," Breen said.

"I think he's the type of player that would sacrifice himself. He's done that already this season. He knew he wasn't quite right, he played the game and it didn't work out.

"It might be the situation now for these three games that he might be able to give you half an hour, and that could be the difference.

"Jesse Marsch sets his team up more defensive than [Marcelo] Bielsa. They stay in the game. They managed to do it against all odds today, the deficit was only one goal in the end.

"So, I hope that he can just contribute to the last three games of the season and he may well make the difference."

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