The Athletic journalist Phil Hay noticed James Milner admitting Liverpool struggled late on against Leeds United at Elland Road on Monday.
Sadio Mane’s first-half goal was looking as though it was enough for the Reds to secure all three points in West Yorkshire before Diego Llorente popped up with a late equaliser for his first goal in English football.
Speaking on The Phil Hay Show podcast, ex-Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Hay talked up Leeds’ ability to tire teams out with their relentless approach and their high fitness levels.
Hay said: “I noticed after the game that Milner, when he was interviewed, said, ‘we seem to get a bit tired in the second half, we seem to to go a little bit flat ourselves’.
“And you do find this against Leeds that Leeds are so energetic and they’re so fit, they’ve got so much stamina that they’re very hard to kill off and very hard to get rid of.
“You saw that even at Arsenal when they were 4-0 up and there was still that feeling with 20 minutes to go, and Leeds pulled it back to 4-2, that there might be something to be had from the game. I think that got into Arsenal’s heads.”
Is there a fitter team in the Premier League than Leeds United? You could argue that Liverpool were that kind of team in the last couple of seasons but this term, they’ve been humiliated in that regard by the Whites.
According to stats by Wyscout, Leeds have the highest challenge intensity in Europe’s top five leagues. Challenge intensity is measured by duels, tackles and interceptions per minute of opponent possession. Leeds sit top with 7.9, Celta Vigo second with 7.2 and Frankfurt third with 6.9.
You have to have an incredibly fit squad to post those kinds of numbers and Marcelo Bielsa’s murderball sessions are definitely key.
During his spell in West Yorkshire, we’ve heard a lot of stories from players about how intense Bielsa’s training sessions are and that’s down to murderball. Mateusz Klich, as quoted by LeedsLive, has explained what murderball is.
“It’s basically playing 11 v 11 with no stops,” said Klich.
“Constantly running around and sprinting, and you have all the coaches on the pitch basically screaming all the time and basically you can’t stop running.
“It’s just a normal game with normal rules, 11 v 11 on a big pitch. You just play, but you can’t stop running. It’s tough, but it’s the most important session in the week.
“It depends on the training how long he wants us to play. It could be five times six minutes, or one times 20 minutes. It just depends what Marcelo wants.”
It’s no shock Leeds have a lot of injuries and it’s also no shock that they’re the fittest in the league and can easily outrun the reigning champions.
In other Leeds United news, a pundit claims Leeds fans would be “devastated” if this speculation turns out to be true.