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Jesse Marsch frustrated by Leeds’ lack of discipline in relegation fight

By Mark Walker
PA Wire

Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch admitted his players were not giving themselves a chance after defeat to Chelsea nudged them closer to the Premier League’s trapdoor.

For the second game running against a top-four opponent, Leeds lost their heads in the heat of their relegation battle as they played of most of the match with 10 men.

Dan James was shown a straight red card against Chelsea for his reckless first-half challenge on Mateo Kovacic after Mason Mount had given the visitors an early lead.

Second-half goals from Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku sent Leeds spinning to a third straight defeat, which left them in the bottom three with two games to play.

Marsch, who saw skipper Luke Ayling sent off in similar circumstances in Sunday’s defeat at Arsenal, said: “The guys are gutted because we’re not giving ourselves the chances we want to come into the match. That part hurts.

“In general, if you go down to the performances, it’s not that they’ve been great, but it hasn’t been horrible.

“It’s just the level of the opponents and playing with a man down for 60 minutes in two matches limits your ability to win the game.”

Leeds have two matches to salvage a wretched season – against Brighton at home on Sunday and at Brentford on the final day – and will be without Ayling and James for both.

Marsch was asked if he had seen enough quality in his team in successive defeats to Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea to suggest Leeds can still stay up.

“You’re talking about City, Arsenal and Chelsea, three of the best teams right now in the league,” the American said. “No matter what, these games were going to be a massive challenge.

Dan James was shown a straight red card for his reckless challenge on Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

“The frustrating part is that we’re losing players in the process, which hurts our ability to recover and compete in the next match.

“That’s the part that makes it most difficult. We knew how good these opponents were.”

Chelsea had dropped 10 points from their previous five matches, but got their Champions League hopes back on track and returned to form in time for Saturday’s FA Cup final against Liverpool.

Boss Thomas Tuchel was particularly pleased for Romelu Lukaku, who was almost withdrawn as a precaution before he notched his side’s third goal.

Tuchel said: “It’s always the right time to find rhythm. I’m happy he scored again and he wanted to stay on the pitch to get his goal.

“I’m happy as well for Puli (Christian Pulisic) and Mason (Mount) that we were decisive with the offensive players. This is important for them because it gives them confidence.”

Lukaku was a major threat all game against Leeds and Tuchel was delighted the Belgium striker got his reward.

“We asked him how he felt because after 75 minutes, for a more heavy player with a big physical input after two matches, maybe it was good to go out,” Tuchel added.

“But I was aware he did not have his goal. Puli and Mason already scored, so we left him on the pitch to try to get his goal and we’re happy with how that worked.”

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Dive Deeper:
Leeds boss Jesse Marsch sends warning to Everton and Burnley over relegation battle
Everton currently sit two points above 18th-placed Leeds United with a game in hand in the Premier League.
Chelsea get Champions League bid back on track on another sorry night for Leeds
Chelsea got their Champions League bid back on track and left 10-man Leeds deeper in the relegation mire with a…
Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic set to miss FA Cup final after Dan James challenge
Kovacic was forced off in the 30th minute with an ankle injury.
Chelsea punish reckless Dan James tackle as troubled Leeds see red again
Leeds United 0-3 Chelsea: Mason Mount’s early opener was followed by a reckless challenge from Dan James to leave the…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Every word Jesse Marsch said on Dan James' red card, injuries, Leeds United's relegation battle
United were beaten 3-0 by Chelsea at Elland Road as they battle for Premier League survival
Chelsea stroll to victory and crank up pressure on 10-man Leeds
Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Romelu Lukaku were on target as Chelsea won 3-0 at Elland Road to increase the…
Get all your news in one place