In the press conference following Leeds United’s goalless draw against Arsenal, Marcelo Bielsa was quizzed on Ezgjan Alioski’s ability to rattle opponents as his qualities led to Nicolas Pepe’s red card.
Pepe was shown a straight red card following a VAR review after he recklessly decided to headbutt Alioski after the pair were involved in an off-the-ball tussle.
One journalist in the post-match press conference asked Bielsa how much he values the fact that Alioski’s demeanour appears to get ‘under the skin’ of opponents and put them off their ‘game’.
Bielsa, whose comments were shared in English by his translator, didn’t wish to be too controversial as he claimed that was the ‘first time’ he’d heard about this aspect of Alioski’s game.
The Argentine refused to say that Alioski rattling his opponents off-the-ball wasn’t the case, adding that the north Macedonian ace may well be using ‘these resources’, but he hadn’t ‘noticed’.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Alioski if this is in fact his style, he can’t be blamed for how his opponents respond, there’s no excuse at all for Pepe’s reaction.
Here's what Marcelo Bielsa had to say when he was asked about Ezgjan Alioski's ability to get under his opponents' 'skin' after the ace provoked Nicolas Pepe into a sending off… pic.twitter.com/Ils7Rl97Md
— CaughtOffside (@caughtoffside) November 23, 2020
“I don’t think this is something distinct in Gjanni (Alioski), it’s the first time I’ve heard it. That’s not to say you’re not right, he perhaps uses these resources and I haven’t noticed.”
“What I do notice is that he’s a player with a lot of enthusiasm, with a lot of passion for every moment in the game.”
“For example, today’s duel with Pepe was a very difficult one, the winger that came on (Reiss Nelson) was also a player who can unbalance, and in this sense I saw Alioski very effective.”
Alioski joined the Yorkshire outfit in the summer of 2017, the ace is naturally a winger but started to deputise at left-back last season and he hasn’t looked back since.
Alioski has made seven appearances in the Premier League this term, with more than half of the ace’s minutes coming as a left-back or wing-back.
Leeds were incredibly unlucky to not come away with a win on Sunday night as they dominated the Gunners with two thirds of the possession, taking 25 shots and hitting the woodwork a couple of times.