Leeds United are set for another relegation battle as they extended their winless run in the Premier League following a 2-0 defeat to Manchester United at Elland Road on Sunday afternoon.
The Whites remain managerless and now sit just one point above the drop zone. Everton, who play on Monday, have a game in hand and could overtake them before next weekend’s six-pointer between the two sides.
In the control of U21 boss and current caretaker Michael Skubala, the west Yorkshire outfit did give a pretty good account of themselves, though they need to pick up results more than ever.
One player who embodied the fight was skipper Luke Ayling, who – for the second successive game against United this week – looked like a man possessed…
Should Leeds offer Ayling a new contract?
How did Luke Ayling do against Man Utd?
The 31-year-old veteran could do very little about either of the Red Devils’ late goals as Marcus Rashford bagged against the run of play before Alejandro Garnacho sealed Leeds’ fate.
Per Sofascore, Ayling (7.5) was the only Whites player to have registered a rating above 6.9 – a feat that was only bettered by just two players on the pitch in visiting defender Luke Shaw and their shot-stopper, David De Gea – on his 400th appearance for the club.
The former Arsenal youth graduate was at the forefront of everything that Leeds did – just like in midweek, where Football FanCast hailed his display. Both defensively and offensively, the skipper did all he could to get a much-needed result in front of a raucous home crowd.
Also via Sofascore, Ayling led the charges in his own third by winning a whopping 13 duels and eight tackles, the former figure was more than double of any of his other teammates whilst the latter statistic was only bettered by one United player.
No Leeds player managed more touches of the ball than him either and from his 20 accurate passes, one became a key chance created, which was also the joint-most of Skubala’s men.
It’s no wonder LeedsLive reporter Beren Cross waxed lyrical about his performance after the game, taking to Twitter to say: “Ayling immense today. Read danger so well and dealt with it. Has he had a better week in Leeds colours? Didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.”
Indeed, that’s exactly why the £35k-per-week ace was once lauded as a “monster” by Leeds’ official data provided LUFCDATA, so on the above evidence, it’s clear to see that Ayling was once again Leeds’ one shining light.
That sort of outing from him will surely give any new boss some confidence heading into the final few months of the campaign.
AND in other news, Fewer touches than Meslier: Leeds’ 4-pass passenger is now a shadow of himself at Elland Road…