Leeds hold on to one point after Luis Sinisterra’s red card against Aston Villa

The confusing thing is that on his way to an Ivy League degree in history from Princeton University, Jesse Marsch wrote a 117-page dissertation entitled “Shaken, Not Stirred; an assessment of earthquake awareness in California.”

With that in mind, one might have expected the Leeds manager to be a little more aware of the disciplinary fault lines which, apart from preventing his side from showing their true abilities, caused some alarming shocks on Sunday.

Ultimately, an often ill-tempered competition that ended with two resolute but inherently fragile teams – if the jury remains on the march, Steven Gerrard’s Villa tenure also seems poised on the delicate cusp between impending misfortune and stability in midfield – ended with just one sending off. namely Luis Sinisterra of Leeds for a ridiculous second bookable offence.

However, there were moments when a game sporadically lit up by Philippe Coutinho’s skills threatened to turn into a brawl. If a Villa ensemble, prone to wasting time at every opportunity, did their part to provoke this, Leeds were far too easy to wind up; Aggression may be an important part of your pressing game, but you need to be much better at controlling it.

“There are moments when I think we can be smarter, manage the referee and everything,” admitted Marsch, who was visibly irritated by both Gerrard’s tactics and Stuart Attwell’s sometimes inconsistent functioning. “But it was a good goal against and a good result with a man down. I feel sorry for the fans, they had to sit out a game where it seemed almost from the first minute that the opponent’s tactic was to slow down the game.”

Leeds were 5-2 by the final whistle, meaning two teams who seem to have developed an almost chemical dislike for each other have now amassed 31 yellow cards and two red cards in their last five Premier League encounters.

Attwell quickly officiated an extremely tricky game that saw small derogatory fouls erupting across the pitch as Leeds failed to impose their preferred high pace.

Indeed, it was probably a stroke of luck that Marsch was relegated to the press box after being sent off in the last game by Leeds, a 5-2 defeat at Brentford 29 days ago which resulted in a one-game suspension on the sidelines . Were it not for this suspension, few of those present would have bet against the sometimes fickle Americans and Gerrard, who cross paths in the technical fields.

“We came here to frustrate Leeds,” admitted Villa’s manager. “If you let them play to their rhythm, they will overrun you, so we slowed the game down to our pace and went to war where it was needed. I don’t care what Jesse thinks about our tactics. We did what we had to do.” And the referee. “He didn’t do much wrong,” Gerrard said, smiling. “He made a very good game.”

Luis Sinisterra is shown his first yellow card by Stuart Attwell
Luis Sinisterra gets his first yellow card from Stuart Attwell. Photo: Nigel Roddis/AFP/Getty Images

Between all the animosity, not to mention the moments when Attwell either threatened to lose control or seemed overly pedantic, Illan Meslier reminded everyone of his talent, making a couple of decent saves against Ollie Watkins and another against Leon Bailey .

Despite initially dominating around 70 per cent possession, Leeds struggled to test Meslier’s counterpart, the desperately underwhelmed Emiliano Martínez, as they failed to pass the ball cleverly enough to properly challenge Gerrard’s central defense axis of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa.

Villa began to see his chances and as Watkins became an increasingly troublesome Coutinho began to make his presence felt by rebounding a magnificent volley that ricocheted off a post early in the second half.

Gerrard couldn’t believe his luck when Sinisterra was sent off for that idiotic second bookable offence. When the winger not only didn’t back down for 10 yards but stretched out a leg to block Douglas Luiz’s attempts at a quick free-kick, Marsch’s head fell into his hands.

Leeds had paid the price for the kind of hot-headed indiscipline their manager was consistently unable to control. Admittedly, Luiz provoked the Colombian, arguably aiming his delivery at his shin, but had Sinisterra – previously booked for a nasty fight against John McGinn – not lifted his foot he would have gone unpunished. Elland Road sang ‘You’re not referee fit’ in unison, but Attwell could hardly bat an eyelid. “I think Luis knows it wasn’t an intelligent decision,” said Marsch, who has already had discussions with the refereeing authorities about wasting time.

Less than 10 men Leeds switched to 5-3-1 but although Konsa’s blocking prevented Patrick Bamford, a warmly welcomed substitute, Meslier looked relieved when Emi Buendía deflected a shot just wide.

“I’m frustrated,” Gerrard said. “We have the quality, but we need our big players to perform in big moments.”

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