MATURING Leeds United continue to tweak the noses of the established Premier League guns.

A goal-less draw with Manchester United at Elland Road yesterday extended their unbeaten record against the so-called European Super League “Big Six” with just Tottenham of the group still to come to LS11.

Marcelo Bielsa’s men have earned much praise for their adventurous style but in recent weeks it has been their stubborn defending against the better sides that has caught the eye.

At Old Trafford in December, Leeds were wide open as they tried to go on all-out attack and were thumped 6-2. Yesterday’e performance was much more conservative.

It is clear that Bielsa, who like many of his players, is tasting Premiership football for the first time, has come up with a formula to narrow the gap between his side and those at the top.

It is a tactical switch that has seen Leeds navigate their way through the last three games against Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United unbeaten.

His preferred way of playing is to dominate possession but against the elite clubs the emphasis is to not press the opposition as high up the pitch, close down the spaces in front of a deeper set defence and play on the break

The Red Devils were the dominant force but goalkeeper Ilan Meslier was well protected and was only truly extended once when he tipped over a 20-yard free-kick from Marcus Rashford in a low-key first half. At the other end Dean Henderson was a virtual spectator as what incursions Leeds managed to make into opposition territory fizzled out. The visitors’ are unbeaten in their last 24 Premiership games – a record that never looked threatened.

Bielsa said: “It was a very demanding game for us. For the game not to be unbalanced the team made a massive effort.

“As the game grew the spaces opened up and there were more opportunities to attack but the draw was sufficient reward for how the game went.

“I have the feeling there has been a growth in the players’ maturity in how to manage these games. In none of the games apart from Arsenal were we able to dominate and win the game. But the draws against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea (and now Manchester United) are good games to judge the players.”

Two of those players, Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk were rock solid and if they continue in the same vein at Brighton it is hard to see that skipper Liam Cooper would automatically get back in the side after serving his three match ban.

There were plenty of juicy tackles flying about as the second period heated up like a proper battle between these two old rivals. But the players on both flanks cancelled each other out and Kalvin Phillips largely nullified the creative threat of Bruno Fernandes so chances were at a premium.

Leeds certainly missed the pace and skill of Brazilian star Raphinha which saw 19-year-old winger Crysencio Summerville promoted to the senior squad for the first time.

The result was enough to nudge Leeds, unbeaten in six games, above Arsenal into ninth place while Manchester City will now lift the title next weekend if Pep Guardiola’s team beat Crystal Palace and the second-placed Red Devils lose at home to outgoing champions Liverpool on Sunday.

Ezgjan Alioski is reportedly joining Turkish side Galatasaray at the end of the season after four years at Elland Road.

Leeds United: Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Struijk, Alioski, Phillips, Dallas, Roberts (Koch 77), Costa (Klich 72), Harrison (Poveda 68), Bamford. Subs (not used): Casilla, Beradi, Summerville, Greenwood, Shackleton. Cautions: Roberts, Alioski, Bamford.

Manchester United: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred (van der Beek 89), McTominay, Fernandes, James (Pogba 76), Greenwood, Rashford (Cavani 86). Subs (not used): de Gea, Bailly, Mata, Telles, Matic, Tuanzebe. Caution: Maguire

Ref: Craig Pawson. Att: Behind closed doors