Jamie Carragher may have coined the game as “awful“, but in the end, Leeds will certainly be happy with taking a point from their Premier League clash against Manchester United on Sunday.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side came into the game off the back of two impressive results against Liverpool and Manchester City respectively, and followed that up with another solid display at Elland Road to avoid defeat against another one of the proposed European Super League’s breakaway clubs.
Kalvin Phillips enjoyed a superb game at the heart of midfield, stopping Bruno Fernandes from really dictating things for United, and it was something he said was part of his assignment after the game: “We do it all game to be fair, we have different markers every game. My task was Bruno. So, I tried to keep him quiet and luckily he didn’t pop up with a goal.”
But while Phillips was undeniably outstanding and was named by the club as the man of the match, Luke Ayling arguably outshone him, and emerged as Bielsa’s real hero from the clash against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
As per Sofascore, he won 11 duels on the day, the joint-most of any Leeds player, tied with Phillips, and also made a whopping seven tackles too – Ayling has been a reliable figure for the Whites this season, but he more than out-performed himself, with his season averages seeing him win 7.2 duels and make 2.8 tackles per game in the top-flight.
The right-back was a key reason behind why Marcus Rashford had an awful time down the United left, losing possession 20 times (the second-most for them) and recording the lowest match rating of any player on either side with a 6.3. Ayling was touch-tight whenever he needed to be and stopped the England international from picking up a full head of steam and running at him.
As well as being defensively solid, Ayling was also involved a lot in the build-up play for Leeds, with his 78 touches the most of any player for Bielsa’s side.
And, in his post-match player ratings for Leeds Live, Beren Cross gave him a joint-high nine, adding: “Exceptional match from one of a few who seemed to read the match expertly. Snuffed out a lot of danger and won his duels in the most part. Some big tackles.”
While Phillips may be the name in the headlines, Ayling produced a monstrous display to help keep out United.