By Noel Whelan

16th Mar, 2021 | 7:30am

Whelan in awe of 'best-ever' Leeds and hails Ayling as the shining light

Leeds United put in their “best-ever” performance off the ball under Marcelo Bielsa – and Luke Ayling was the star of the show.

That is according to ex-Leeds striker and boyhood fan Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after Ayling, 29, wowed in the 0-0 draw with Chelsea on Saturday.

He equalled his record for the season with 13 interceptions, completed two successful dribbles and won nine out of 14 defensive duels (Wyscout).

Leeds hit the bar and had a goal ruled out for offside against a Chelsea side that are yet to lose in 12 matches under new manager Thomas Tuchel.

Whelan was overjoyed with Leeds’ all-round performance and singled Ayling out for particular praise.

He told Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs: “Luke Ayling was excellent. When you look at the amount of effort we had to put in, it had to be a very disciplined performance.

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“You know what you’re gonna get from Luke at right-wing-back. He loves to get forward but he can defend as well. He covers ground and he has the experience in that position that we need.

“I could give everyone 9/10 for the way they worked, the way they got into Chelsea’s face. You’ve got to do that against players of that calibre and quality. You can’t allow them a second on the ball.

“I think the discipline was the best-ever under Marcelo Bielsa in terms of pressing, off the ball, getting behind the ball. It was aggressive and it was for 90 minutes and it had to be. Ayling was key to that. 

“When we had the opportunity to take the game to Chelsea, we did. There could have been goals on either side but I think a draw was probably a fair result.”

Ayling signed for Leeds from Bristol City in August 2016.

He has gone on to appear 182 times for the club, scoring six goals and chipping in with 16 assists.

In other news, a top pundit claims this is how Patrick Bamford would react if Leeds United signed Ivan Toney.