'Ridiculous' – Graeme Souness can't believe what he saw from one Leeds player v Everton
Graeme Souness has hailed Luke Ayling as the Duracell of Leeds United players, claiming the right-back has “ridiculous energy”.
Souness was talking after the Sky Sports coverage of the game against Everton that Leeds won 1-0 [Sky Sports, Saturday, 7.30pm].
As is their way under Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds pressed and attacked from the start, with the game recording the second-most shots in a game this season (38). [BBC, MotD, Saturday, 10pm]. The only game that’s recorded more shots this season was the Leeds win against Aston Villa (39).
Souness said that this was now a prime characteristic of Leeds under Bielsa and picked out Ayling for going above and beyond any other player on the pitch.
Talking on Sky Sports Souness said, “Unless you put a shift in you’re not getting in that starting XI, even the so-called flair players.
“[Luke] Ayling has ridiculous energy. I like Phillips, too he’s got a good range of passing, never seems to get flustered.”
Souness had high praise for the workrate of match-winner Raphinha too – one of the “flair” players he was talking about.
“He’s a flair player but he works his socks off,” Souness said. “There’s lots to like about him because apart from having ability he works really hard when Leeds don’t have the ball.”
Ayling has really stepped up to the Premier League this season and although he started looking a bit tired in the last five minutes of the game on Saturday, he was an absolute livewire on the right flank all evening.
He was given a 7.1 rating by WhoScored, the highest in the back four for Leeds, who recorded their first consecutive clean sheet in the Premier League.
Ayling has still to record an attacking return for Leeds and that’s the one thing he needs to improve on.
The final ball from him is still lacking but if he started adding attacking returns he would be one of the standout full-backs in the top-flight.
His stats from the game are ridiculous and he created the second-most chances in the game.
Luke Ayling vs. Everton:
98 touches (joint-most 🌟)
55/71 succ. passes (2nd-most)
46 opp. half passes
17/27 final third passes
6 touches in opp box
5 duels won
3 chances created (2nd-most 🔥)
2 aerial duels won
2/3 succ. crosses
1 succ. take-on
1 shot pic.twitter.com/pJhXqcCsF2
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) November 29, 2020
For a player who cost much less than £1m, he has been an absolute revelation for Leeds and a lot of it comes from the fitness that Bielsa demands from his players.
Back in October, it was said that Leeds had covered the most distance in the Premier League and averaged 115km per game. [LUFCDATA]
Leeds have covered the MOST distance so far in the Premier League and are averaging 115km per game in 2020/21. Fulham rank bottom in the top flight with 103km. Leeds also top metrics for most ball recoveries (252), most successful pressures (248) & most tackles won (96). 💪 #LUFC pic.twitter.com/xUC01K8GiM
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) October 14, 2020
Leeds were the fittest team in the Championship last season and are heading the same way in the Premier League.
In a game where managers are constantly trying to eke out an extra few percentage points from their players, it seems crazy that all players aren’t as fit as Leeds.
Ayling personifies this, bombing up and down the flanks all game, every game, without stopping.
Souness might have come under fire for claiming that Kalvin Phillips should score more but he’s bang on here.
In other Leeds United news, ‘Amazing’, ‘Something special’: Some Leeds & Everton fans react as footage emerges from Goodison