Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith admitted that Anwar El Ghazi’s experience playing under Marcelo Bielsa in France played a significant part in his side’s 1-0 win over Leeds United. The Dutch international’s fifth-minute goal was followed by an excellent defensive display from the visitors at Elland Road, as Smith claimed his first win over Bielsa at the fourth attempt. Following the match, Smith was quick to praise El Ghazi’s contribution.
Dean Smith said: “He certainly knows how to play against a Marcelo Bielsa team because he’s played for one for 19 games when they were both at Lille. He knows how they play. I felt he was ready for this game. He started really well and had a few good efforts. He knew what to expect from their team and knew what to do. His defensive display was good too.”
Villa ceded 70 per cent of the possession to Leeds, but goalkeeper Emi Martinez was rarely troubled, particularly in the second half.
Dean Smith said: “I thought we got our tactics spot on. We restricted the distance and space for them to play in, which they’re very good at. The back end of the first half got a bit stretched and they were able to attack. The second half we gave up the ball a bit and restricted their chances. Tactically we were good – second half I was so pleased and we were always a threat on the counter. The players deserve lots of credit. Our game plan came off really well. We pressed them really well.”
Leeds stay tenth in the Premier League table ahead of this weekend’s remaining fixtures and now face a nine-day gap in fixtures before they visit West Ham a week on Monday.
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