Marcelo Bielsa was typically honest as he faced questions about his future. After all, they were inevitable after the 7-0 battering by Manchester City earlier this week.

While Leeds fans might try to convince you it was a less frustrating match than their late 3-2 defeat to Chelsea at the weekend, from the outside it looked as bleak as it gets.

"Do you think that after suffering a 7-0 defeat I can discard the instability?" Bielsa asked on Thursday. "Do you think there's a coach that can't be sacked, who is unsackable? Do you think I'm so vain that I think I can't be sacked?"

Given everything Bielsa's done for Leeds in his four years, it might be fair enough to ponder whether he was untouchable or not, but Tuesday was grim.

It was Leeds' joint-heaviest defeat ever in the Football League/Premier League and the first time Bielsa conceded seven goals in one match over his entire management career – that equates to 568 matches.

While it was only the first time Leeds have suffered back-to-back league losses this term, defeat to City was the continuation of an unequivocally bad start to the season.

Great expectations

In all competitions, Leeds have won just four matches in 90 minutes and only one of those has come since the start of November.

Things don't look much more encouraging this weekend either as they face Arsenal. A third defeat in a row could potentially leave them just two points above the bottom three at Christmas.

Injuries aren't helping their cause, with as many as seven players set to miss out this weekend and Junior Firpo is suspended. Among the absentees is Patrick Bamford, the scorer of 17 Premier League goals last season.

He's already missed a chunk of the season, featuring just six times in the Premier League, perhaps going some way to explaining some of Leeds' issues.

Their injuries, form and proximity to the bottom three are all putting extra expectation on one player.

Raphinha wasn't exactly an unknown when he joined Leeds – Rennes and Ligue 1 are hardly 'obscurity', but he's undoubtedly seen his reputation grow exponentially during his 14 months in England.

His debut season was very promising as Raphinha managed to combine the work rate demanded in a Bielsa team with on-the-ball flair and an eye for the spectacular.

Feisty, flamboyant and forceful – Leeds fans could barely believe they'd managed to retain him when the most recent transfer window shut.

Among the league's most-crucial players

It's fair to say he picked up where he left off, having already surpassed last season's goals total when his penalty against Chelsea took him to seven in 15 games.

Though, with Bamford missing, Raphinha is having to operate slightly differently due to there being the need to pick up the slack caused by absences.

Given Bamford's injury problems, it's unsurprising to see Raphinha's shot frequency has increased from 2.6 to 3.1 every 90 minutes and that's probably had a knock-on effect to his creativity.

His two chances created on a per-90-minute basis is down slightly from 2.4 – similarly, his expected assists (xA) has also decreased fractionally to 0.22 from 0.26. Of course, he probably would have been aided in this area had Leeds' best striker been available all season – rather, Raphinha's the one having to lead from the front and be a creative spark.

An increase in touches per game (59.9 to 63) suggests greater general influence, and while that's not translated to more key passes or assists, Raphinha's importance is further highlighted by his involvement Leeds' build-up play.

He's been involved in 592 open play passing sequences this term, a figure only four players designated as strikers or wingers can better. Among the same group, only eight have played a part in more sequences that ended in a shot than the Brazilian (74) and six of those represent members of the so-called 'big six'.

Raphinha's explosive talents and ball carrying skills make him a great asset when Leeds are trying to relieve pressure and get back up the pitch, but we can also see that his team-mates recognise his usefulness when they're trying to retain the ball.

There's a case to be had that, relative to their respective teams, Raphinha is among the most crucial players in the Premier League – after all, since his first start in November 2020, only five players have had a hand in more non-penalty goals than him (21).

While Arsenal may not be the force they once were, beating the Gunners would be a significant feat for Leeds when you consider their current form.

Raphinha was quiet in the mauling by City, failing to register a single shot or key pass, a performance he'll surely be eager to prove was a one-off.

And if anyone can get Leeds out of their slump by terrorising an Arsenal side often accused of lacking personality, it's Raphinha.

Kevin De Bruyne described Manchester City's 7-0 thrashing of Leeds United as "a booster for the whole team" after he returned to scoring form with an exceptional double.

De Bruyne was one of five attacking players fielded by Premier League champions City, with not a natural centre forward among them, and the quintet's marauding was more than Leeds could handle at the Etihad Stadium.

Phil Foden, Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez joined De Bruyne on the scoresheet, while defenders John Stones and Nathan Ake also got in on the act late on.

De Bruyne was starting a Premier League game for the first time since the derby against Manchester United on November 6, after working his way back to fitness from a recent COVID-19 lay-off.

"There's been a lot happening this year, a little bit out of my control, so the only thing I can do is try to work hard and come back as quick as possible," City playmaker De Bruyne told NBC.

"It's unfortunate with everything that happened, and at the time I was coming back in a good rhythm until I got COVID. So it happened and now we're working hard to come back in a good level.

"I think we played incredibly well, especially with the way they press; we found the right time to attack them."

City's seven goals came from an expected goals (xG) tally of 2.2, which suggests their finishing was outstanding, as it plainly was.

A curiosity was that they also had an xG of 2.2 in last season's corresponding fixture, but lost that 2-1 to a smash-and-grab Leeds.

This time City built a big early lead – 3-0 in 32 minutes – and stretched clear.

"When you're three or four-nil up it gets tougher for them," said Belgium international De Bruyne. "They tried to keep it a little more tight in the second half, but I think we had enough chances to score a lot more.

"It's good for everybody. A lot of people who maybe didn't play a lot played today chipped in, so for the whole team it's a booster.

"We were patient at the beginning and at the right times we found the gaps to go forward and punished them."

De Bruyne's second goal, a fizzing 25-yard shot, moved City 5-0 in front and was his 20th successful strike from outside the penalty area in the Premier League since his debut for the club in September 2015. That is more than anyone else has managed in the same time frame.

City moved four points clear of Liverpool at the top of the table after inflicting Leeds' heaviest defeat of the Premier League era.

While Leeds totter in the bottom five, City have eyes on the big prize again, and a seventh consecutive win in the league means they are in great shape to push towards that target.

De Bruyne expects a tough battle for the title though, saying: "It's a hell of a competition. It's going to be a hell of a race this year, but we're trying to be there."

Arsenal booked their place in the EFL Cup quarter-finals after a 2-0 win over Leeds United thanks to goals from Calum Chambers and Eddie Nketiah.

Chambers headed Arsenal in front 10 minutes into the second half just moments after he had come on to the pitch as a substitute.

Nketiah scored Arsenal's second 14 minutes later when he capitalised on a weak ball back to Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier.

Leeds, who had chances of their own in the first half, were unable to find a response as Mikel Arteta's side saw out the game without further alarm.

Arsenal showed the early intent with Nketiah's shot going just wide while Sead Kolasinac struck the side netting with a low angled attempt.

Leeds weathered the spell of pressure and then had two chances of their own before the half hour; Daniel James tamely shot at Bernd Leno when sent clear before the German produced a superb diving save to keep out Jack Harrison's rasping half-volley.

Leno was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the remainder of the half as he saved a low deflected shot from James, and was relieved to see a Tyler Roberts shot fly wide.

Arsenal were dealt a blow shortly after the interval when Ben White limped off injured, but they soon had reason to celebrate when his replacement Chambers scored with his first touch.

A corner from Smith Rowe was nodded back across by Nicolas Pepe to Chambers who saw his header blocked by Meslier but goal-line technology deemed the ball had crossed the line.

Nketiah added a second with just over 20 minutes left when he latched on to a backward header from Liam Cooper, nudged the ball over the outrushing Meslier before he shinned it into the empty net.

The goal stifled any hope of a Leeds comeback as Arteta's men saw out the remainder of the game and secured their spot in the last eight.

Fabinho praised the impact made by Raphinha since arriving in the Premier League and says he expected the Leeds United winger to join Liverpool earlier this year.

Raphinha has starred for Leeds since arriving from Rennes for a reported £17million (€20m) in October 2020 and was rewarded with his first cap for Brazil last week.

The 24-year-old further enhanced his reputation with two goals, while also winning a penalty, in a 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory against Venezuela.

He also featured as a second-half substitute in Brazil's stalemate with Colombia and is in contention to play a part in Thursday's clash with Uruguay.

Fabinho, who played a full the full 90 minutes in those two previous matches, has been particularly impressed by what he has seen from his international team-mate at club level.

"Since he arrived in the Premier League, has been performing and standing out very well at Leeds," Fabinho told reporters.

"Even in the summer transfer market, there was some talk that he could go to Liverpool. I even expected that to happen, but he stayed at Leeds."

Indeed, Raphinha's agent Deco has confirmed Liverpool showed an interest in the winger during the most recent transfer window without making a formal move.

"He's an important player," Deco told Brazilian outlet O Globo. "There are certainly several clubs that like him, and Liverpool do like him.

"There were approaches, but nothing official. Leeds wanted to keep him for another season."

That interest from Liverpool came on the back of a debut campaign in English football that saw Raphinha score six goals and assist nine more in the Premier League.

Only five others assisted more goals in the division last term, and while he has yet to set up a goal this campaign, his expected assists return of 1.81 ranks him among the top five players.

The ex-Sporting CP attacker already has three league goals to his name in 2021-22, coming from 24 shots, while only four others in the league have attempted more dribbles than his 37 – a list topped by Wolves' Adama Traore (61).

With Raphinha poised to feature for Brazil some 36 hours before Leeds' meeting with Southampton, however, Marcelo Bielsa faces being without his most influential attacker this weekend.

"There is no doubt that it's a short turnaround," Bielsa said at his pre-match news conference on Thursday. 

"The options he has to participate in the game on Saturday depends on whether he plays this final game tonight, how many minutes he plays, how he finishes the game after participating in it and how efficient his rest in the next 36 hours is.

"Considering that a third of those hours he will spend on a flight and if there is any risk that fatigue could cause injuries, then we won't risk it. There are so many aspects to consider that I can't offer you any certainty either way."

Manchester United target Kalvin Phillips was "born and belongs" at Leeds United, according to the Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Phillips, who came through the academy at Leeds and has developed tenfold under Bielsa, has repeatedly been linked with a move away from Elland Road after impressing in his debut Premier League campaign.

A subsequent call-up for England's Euro 2020 squad followed and the midfielder received praise once more, forming a remarkable partnership with Declan Rice as Gareth Southgate's side marched to their first major final in 55 years.

Indeed, Phillips recovered possession a team-high 45 times, while only three team-mates completed more than his 293 successful passes at the tournament.

And Bielsa, who transformed the 25-year-old into a holding midfielder after his appointment, expressed how valuable Phillips is to his side as reports of a move to Old Trafford continue to swirl.

"That's a question Kalvin [Phillips] needs to answer," Bielsa said on Thursday when asked about his midfielder's future.

"Of course, he's a very valuable player. I have seen in him the conduct I have very rarely seen in a player.

"In how football is right now, for a player to decline a team above the level where he is at, due to love of a club he is at, is not frequent.

"Loved definitively in the place he was born and belongs. When you go for the money, or for the evolution, you resolve a moment in your sporting career, but when you opt for the affection of those of people, you resolve in your life forever.

"When you're loved where you're from, the possibilities to be happy increase. The moment [if he leaves] and the way he does it will convert him as an idol forever.

"I'm sure he will only leave if it's guaranteed the link to the place he was born remains intact. He will know how to do it."

Phillips has picked up where he left off last term, ranking second among club charts for both recoveries (49) and successful opposition-half passes (109) despite playing one top-flight game fewer than most of his colleagues.

He also sits third for completed passes (236) and fifth for duels won (22) and Bielsa believes his development deserves leadership status in the team with opponents now targeting to neutralise him.

"Kalvin's passage for the national team and evaluation of his game clearly allows him to have leadership within the team," the head coach continued.

"When a player performs, that improvement in his performance is perceived by everybody. One of the consequences is, to do what you did before requires more effort. The opponent sees he's shining, they do their utmost to neutralise him."

However, despite the links away to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, Phillips' agent Kevin Sharp insisted that his client was content with life at Leeds.

"I can only see a positive outcome," Sharp told the Telegraph. "Kalvin's desire is to stay at Leeds and there is a real willingness from all sides to make it happen."

Marcelo Bielsa says his Leeds United future "has been resolved" ahead of Saturday's opening Premier League match against Manchester United.

The 66-year-old has spent the past three years at Elland Road and guided Leeds to a ninth-placed finish in the top flight last season after earning promotion the previous campaign.

Bielsa signed a one-year contract extension on the eve of the 2020-21 campaign and now looks set to stay on for a further 12 months.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of this weekend's trip to Old Trafford, Bielsa said: "The contract situation is one that is already resolved. The subject is resolved."

Pressed on how long the contract will run, Bielsa, through a translator, replied: "One year is habitual."

Leeds spent big last year ahead of their first season back in the Premier League and have brought in Junior Firpo and Kristoffer Klaesson during the current window, while also turning Jack Harrison's loan move from Manchester City into a permanent deal.

Bielsa is grateful for the support shown in him by the Yorkshire club, who have also made improvements to their training ground and Elland Road.

"From my point of view this is an extraordinary club," he said. "It's not often you have a club that designates so much volume of investment to the improvement of the training facilities.

"Leeds have made a significant contribution economically to provide the tools for a manager to prepare to be the ideal ones."

Bielsa also confirmed defender Diego Llorente will miss the Premier League opener with the Red Devils as Leeds look to end a poor run at Old Trafford.

The Whites are winless in their last 16 away league meetings with Manchester United since February 1981, including a heavy 6-2 loss in this corresponding fixture last season.

Bielsa's side ended last season with four successive Premier League wins, a run in which only Arsenal and Liverpool (both five) could better at the end of the campaign.

They last won five consecutive Premier League games in March and April 2001, with a run of six.

Brentford captain Pontus Jansson heaped praise on Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa after the Bees were promoted to the Premier League for the first time.

Ivan Toney's penalty, swiftly followed by a fierce first-time strike from Emiliano Marcondes, secured a 2-0 win for Brentford in the Championship play-off final against Swansea City.

Brentford lost to Fulham at the same stage last year, Jansson's first with the club after leaving Bielsa's Leeds, who were promoted as champions and have this term enjoyed a spectacular return to the Premier League, finishing ninth.

But, speaking to Sky Sports, Jansson explained how what he learned from Bielsa played a pivotal role in Brentford ending a 74-year absence from the top flight.

"Last year a lot of Leeds fans was against me, this year so many Leeds fans have been with me and with Brentford, probably because they are already there and they wanted me to come and join them," Jansson said.

"I love Leeds, Brentford fans know I love Leeds, Leeds is one of the favourite clubs I have, of course I love Brentford as much, I'm so proud, I'm so happy, I could go home to Sweden and retire because this is what I've dreamt of for such a long time since I came to England, finally of course I will not go home, I will stay here and hopefully play Premier League football.

"I'm so thankful to Bielsa for what he gave me at Leeds, he gave me so much knowledge that I actually brought to Brentford and Brentford was so willing to listen to me and my ideas that I took from Bielsa.

 

"I thank him a lot because he's one of the best coaches in the world. People think mine and his relationship is not the best but it is, I'm so thankful to him."

Brentford scored 79 goals in the 46-game Championship season, the most in the division, increasing the tally for the campaign to 84 with their efforts in the play-offs.

The Bees scored 73 non-penalty goals across 49 matches, underperforming their xG of 74.4 but playing an expansive style of football reflective of what Jansson experienced at Leeds.

 

Toney was the talisman behind their promotion, his spot-kick taking him to 33 goals in a remarkable campaign. Twenty-two of those goals came from 135 non-penalty shots with an xG of 20.7.

Asked about what he could do in front of goal in the top tier, Toney replied: "I don't know, who knows what's to come.

"I'm a Premier League striker now and I can't wait to score goals in the Prem."

The European Super League will bring "harm to football" and those involved are risking alienating the lifeblood of the sport – the fans.

That is the view of Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa, who launched a scathing attack on plans for a breakaway league after Leeds held member club Liverpool to a 1-1 draw on Monday.

Sunday's announcement was met with a huge backlash from supporters, governing bodies, non-member clubs, players, ex-professionals and pundits.

UEFA has threatened sanctions against the 12 clubs who have thus far signed up to the scheme, with Liverpool among them.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp suggested he was no fan of the proposals, saying he would "try to help to sort it", while midfielder James Milner was more direct in his criticism, declaring: "I don't like it and hopefully it doesn't happen."

Bielsa then lent his voice to the chorus of disapproval as he lamented the greed and self-interest of the clubs spearheading the project.

"Of course it causes harm to football," he said. "This shouldn't surprise any of us.

"The stronger teams, these powerful teams think they have most influence and are generating most of the revenue in football.

"Taking into account this logic, when the rest of the teams are no longer necessary for them, they take privilege in their own interest and forget the rest.

"There are structures that should put limits on the excesses of the big teams. This was inevitable.

"The organisations could have anticipated these excesses and they could have avoided it. This shouldn't surprise us because this happens in all walks of life.

"Of course there are different teams, more important than others but they should be conscious of the needs of each other.

"But because football has a view that is always more commercial now, it is natural that in the world of businesses, looking only at the economic aspect, they demand the majority of it.

"Football belongs to everybody, even if there are owners, the real owners of football are the ones who love the badge and without them football will disappear."

Pep Guardiola thinks Kevin De Bruyne can achieve whatever he wants at Manchester City after committing his long-term future to the Premier League leaders.

De Bruyne penned a two-year extension this week until June 2025 that will take him up to a decade with the club if he sees out the terms.

Since signing for City from Wolfsburg in 2015, the Belgium playmaker has scored 41 goals and supplied 76 assists in 176 Premier League matches.

In terms of creativity, that puts him far above his peers, with ex-Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen (51) the only other player to have laid on more than 50 goals during the same period, with former and current team-mates David Silva (44) and Riyad Mahrez (41) up next.

De Bruyne's 535 chances created since his goalscoring City debut against West Ham in September 2015 displays an even bigger gulf, with Eriksen (413) and Mesut Ozil (400) the only other men to reach 400.

Such returns lead Guardiola to believe anything is possible for a 29-year-old who will hope to inspire City to elusive Champions League glory this term, having opened the scoring in Tuesday's 2-1 quarter-final first leg win over Borussia Dortmund.

"We will see from Kevin what he wants to be. His type of player, what he wants will be possible. It depends on him," Guardiola said ahead of Saturday's Premier League home game versus Leeds United.

"I never involved in signing contracts for the players. That belongs to Txiki [Begiristain, City's director of football] and the club, but my personal opinion is I’m more than delighted for the time we've spent together in the past and hopefully, in these two months we still have ahead, we can do a good step forward and in the future.

"If the club and Kevin are satisfied, then if a third person is satisfied, it's me. Congratulations to Kevin, his family and Manchester City."

Such longevity will give De Bruyne the chance to enshrine his place alongside modern City greats such as Silva, former captain Vincent Kompany and outgoing club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero.

Guardiola concedes players spending such a long time with one team is unusual in the modern era, having himself committed to the longest tenure of his coaching career.

"Yes, it's not normal but some players are not normal," he said. "We are delighted with these players.

"Hopefully they can join more players in this position. I can talk for myself. I’m here five years and I will be two more, in principle, if the situation is going well.

"The club helps us and I'm glad important players like Kevin, who has all the world in his hands and all the clubs would be delighted to have him, decide to stay with us. I think it's a big compliment for all Manchester City."

As usual before facing his old mentor, there were big compliments from Guardiola for Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, who said the ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach imbues his teams with a "magical quality" this week.

"I'm overwhelmed, I feel weird. He’s a huge competitor," Guardiola said of the praise.

"He's the most honest person, when I was able to speak with him, I'm pretty sure what he says is what he believes. He doesn't say anything for the media for himself. That's why I'm overwhelmed, everyone knows the admiration and respect – the way he helped me in my beginnings.

"Always he'll be there in my heart and that's why I am always 'wow'. I always feel I don't deserve it."

Jorge Sampaoli dismissed comparisons to fellow Argentinian Marcelo Bielsa as he was presented as Marseille's new head coach on Tuesday.

The former Atletico Mineiro, Santos and Sevilla boss, who has also managed Argentina and Chile, has inherited a team in crisis and will be charged with bringing coherency to Marseille's play and an upturn in results.

Bielsa coached Marseille in the 2014-15 season, when OM led the way in Ligue 1 at the halfway stage of the campaign but fell away and finished fourth.

His enigmatic ways made him a hero in the city, and Bielsa is now being revered as manager of Leeds United. However, Sampaoli said he would not wish to be compared to his countryman, despite having enormous admiration for Bielsa's methods.

"For many coaches, Marcelo Bielsa is a reference, ditto for me. I have followed each of his teams and I feel close to him in my game ideas, but I'm not going to try to be like him," Sampaoli said.

"I'm going to change things quickly in my own way. I come for a project anchored in the present moment, my goal is not to be remembered for the long term. I just want to help the club out of this difficult situation and make the fans happy."

Marseille finished second last year but this season has been one of implosion, with a shocking Coupe de France defeat at the hands of fourth-tier Canet Roussillon on Sunday a new low for the team.

They are floundering in eighth place in Ligue 1 and appointed Sampaoli after suspending previous boss Andre Villas-Boas following "sporting policy" disagreements with the board.

Only three teams have won fewer Ligue 1 games in 2021 than Marseille - bottom two Dijon and Nantes, and Rennes, the team who visit the Stade Velodrome on Wednesday.

Marseille have created an average of 6.5 chances per league game since the turn of the year, having carved out 7.6 per match in the 2020-21 competition before January 1.

Overall they have created 192 chances this season, which is the fewest of all Ligue 1 teams.

OM cannot even claim to have been unlucky - they have hit the woodwork three times, fewer than any other team. Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon have each done so 19 times and Rennes and Nice on 14 occasions.

The new boss, who took his first training session on Monday, explained in a news conference: "I want to implement a short-term playing philosophy.

"We have to try to get back to basics, to show the desire, the rhythm and for each player in this group to realise he is lucky to wear this jersey.

"We have to convince the squad that the project consists of being competitive in all areas by getting involved to the maximum. Some players will adapt but others won't. Anyway, the goal is to restore the image of the club."

New Marseille president Pablo Longoria said experienced playmaker Dimitri Payet and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, who is captain of the team, would have a major role to play in the Sampaoli era.

Longoria said: "You have to have respect for the club's legends. Mandanda is the player who has played the most for OM in the club's history. Naturally he comes into our project, the same for Payet.

"They will get to know a new playing philosophy and everyone must stay united, despite results, so that everyone goes in the same direction."

The verdict from the Premier League trial at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is in: a unanimous win for the defence. 

Tottenham against Leeds United – Mourinho-ball versus Bielsa-ball – was set up to be an eye-catching case involving two coaches determined to succeed by their own methods, backed up by a mountain of evidence from previous roles.

Leeds, who have understandably become a favourite for the neutrals since returning to the top flight, controlled possession and had plenty of attempts in the early kick-off on Saturday – 18 in total (albeit only five on target). They made 583 passes as a team, while four of their line-up were successful with more pass attempts than Tottenham's top distributor, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. 

However, Marcelo Bielsa's unwavering desire to play out at all costs – to pass, pass, then pass again, no matter how precarious the situation – saw Leeds become the chief architects of their own downfall. 

Jose Mourinho, of course, had Spurs set up perfectly to pounce.

If these teams visited an all-you-can-eat buffet, you sense Leeds would waste little time in attacking the complimentary bread plonked at the table before getting started. Spurs, in contrast, would resist getting involved in early carbohydrates, instead choosing to wait for the tastier options yet to come.

Both sides appeared hungry in the early going, but the game changed when Illan Meslier's wayward pass was picked off in the 27th minute, leading to the crucial opening goal. The goalkeeper's next task was to retrieve the ball from his net, Harry Kane having converted from the spot.

It was the sixth time Leeds have conceded a penalty this season – they only gave up three during the entirety of their promotion campaign from the Championship – perhaps an accepted consequence of Bielsa's risk-and-reward policy.

Tottenham had made a habit of squandering one-goal leads as of late – doing so away at Crystal Palace and Wolves – but there were no such concerns here, not once Son Heung-min had swept in a Kane cross to double the advantage before the break. 

After Son's 100th goal for the north London club, Toby Alderweireld just about headed in another early in the second half and, while Leeds' front-foot approach makes you feel there is no such thing as a lost cause, a comeback never materialised in the capital. 

Spurs scored three for the first time in 11 league games. They now have 29 goals in the competition this season – just one less than their opponents, branded the top-flight's great entertainers.

Mourinho had unsurprisingly bristled in a pre-match news conference when asked if it was important for his team to win with style.

"Nobody was saying that when Tottenham scored six goals against Manchester United, nobody would say that if we beat Liverpool at Anfield 2-1," he said, knowing full well that no league table has ever included a column devoted entirely to points awarded for artistic merit. 

"I'm pragmatic, and in some matches Tottenham is winning 1-0 and doesn't produce enough in the second half to score more and concedes, that I understand. One thing is what you do and one thing is what you want to do."

Spurs certainly did exactly what Mourinho wanted against Leeds, who like Arsenal and Manchester City before them, fell prey to a method that is all about ambushing opponents when they are at their most vulnerable.

Mourinho has now won all five career meetings with Bielsa, though the Argentine coach will not be too concerned. Both will continue to do things their own way, no matter what anyone else may say.

Jose Mourinho does not believe managers should have "disciples", insisting that every coach makes their own way in football.

Mourinho's Tottenham host in-form Leeds United on Saturday, with the Whites' boss Marcelo Bielsa having gained plenty of plaudits for his side's play this season.

After managing promotion from the Championship at the second attempt, Bielsa has guided Leeds to 11th place after 16 games.

Leeds have scored 30 goals this season, ranking behind only Liverpool, United and Chelsea, but they have also conceded the same amount – only West Brom have let in more.

After a 6-2 thrashing at Manchester United led to some pundits suggesting Bielsa's all-out attack tactics needed to be altered, Leeds have won their last two fixtures, grinding out a 1-0 home win against Burnley before dispatching a dismal West Brom 5-0 on the road.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino are known admirers of Bielsa, who counts the Argentina, Chile, Athletic Bilbao, Marseille and Lille jobs on his CV.

Asked if he was a fan of Bielsa, Mourinho claimed he does not know the Leeds manager well enough to judge, but dismissed the suggestion a coach should have "disciples".

"I'm only a disciple of my father. I don't like that situation in football," he told a news conference.

"Even younger coaches or people who have worked with me in football. I don't like that they are "disciples" of Jose.

"Every coach is an individual with his own ideas. They can be influenced by one or another but they are an individual.

"I don't know [Bielsa] well. I think he was Athletic Bilbao coach in one of the seasons when I was at Real Madrid. Now is the first time we are in the Premier League at the same time.

"For sure he has to be a very good coach, but I'm not the person to analyse him because I don't know him. I've shook hands a couple of times, that's it."

Should Leeds claim a third successive win, they would move level on points with Spurs, while a victory for Mourinho's team would take them, temporarily at least, into the top four.

A run of four games without a win has seen Tottenham drop off the pace, but Mourinho believes the quality of the Premier League makes this season a much more even playing field.

"You might start bad, or end bad or have a difficult moment in the Christmas period or difficult moment with injuries, it is very difficult to be stable in terms of results," Mourinho said.

"I believe that we are going to have good periods again. When you go through all the other clubs [playing well], apart from maybe Aston Villa who have kept that stability, one was knocked out of the Champions League, another one drew two matches in a row, another one lost three matches in a row away from home.

"It is difficult for everybody. I keep saying, maybe not everyone agrees with me, that in every club there are good players. In every club there are players that could play for the top clubs.

"I am not speaking about Liverpool and Chelsea, I am speaking about the teams considered with less potential. That is getting fake and fake and fake. I don't look anymore at the dimension of the club, I don't look anymore at the table."

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