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Emile Heskey was left in awe by Leeds United’s rapid-fire football in their 3-0 battering of his former club Aston Villa on Friday, speaking exclusively to HITC.

While it was the floppy fringe of ‘Hatrick’ Bamford which dominated the West Yorkshire headlines on Saturday morning, Leeds’ number nine was not the only member of Marcelo Bielsa’s tight-knit squad who took a sledgehammer to Premier League’s only 100 per cent record last time out.

You get the feeling that Luke ‘the Lambeth Cafu’ Ayling could go in goal and do a passible impression of Iker Casillas, such is the remarkable versatility of this all-action right-back.

Ayling was forced to fill in at centre-half due to Liam Cooper’s injury-enforced absence in the Midlands.

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And just weeks after Villa’s £28 million record signing Ollie Watkins netted a stunning treble against reigning champions Liverpool, he was afforded barely a sniff of goal by a man who produces 8/10 performances almost every single week, regardless of the opposition or the position he is asked to play.

“Ayling, he makes he tired watching him. I’m out of breath when I see him going up and down and think ‘wow, where’s he getting that energy from’?” Heskey quips.

“You’ve got to take your hat off to Leeds. They were seriously on the front foot! I was very, very surprised but loved watching them and Villa just couldn’t deal with them!

Photo by MICHAEL STEELE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“Villa weren’t bad but Leeds were creating a hell of a lot of chances. It was 3-0 at the end but it could have been a lot worse.”

While Ayling and the ever-improving Robin Koch stood strong at one end, it was Jack Harrison and Rodrigo who ripped Aston Villa’s previously imperious backline apart at the other.

Rodrigo, Leeds’ £27 million record signing, is quickly easing the creative burden on the 35-year-old Pablo Hernandez with that jaw-dropping reverse pass in the build up to Bamford’s third goal the kind of defence-splitting through ball compatriot Andres Iniesta would be proud of.

Harrison, meanwhile, plays it simple but effective.

The Man City loanee continues to deliver inch-perfect cross after inch-perfect cross from the left and, on Friday’s evidence, Bamford will have plenty of chances to add to his already impressive tally of six league goals in the months to come.

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“When you’ve got wingers who think about crossing that ball in – (those who) want to take a touch and whip it into that area – all you’ve got to do is get into that area,” Heskey says of Harrison, the kind of wideman every striker dreams of playing with.

“We had it with Steve Guppy (at Leicester). As soon as he takes that touch, you’re making that run.

“With others, they’re taking the touch, taking that stepover, doing a Cruyff, you’ve done four movements before the ball is put in the box. When you know the ball is coming in, it’s the best feeling. Marc Albrighton is another one.

“And Rodrigo has took his time but he’s brought something to the team.”

Six games into their first top-flight season since 2003/04, Leeds are sitting pretty in a European position, accumulating 10 points from a possible 18 while only Heung Min Son and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have outscored Bamford so far.

Ayling, Harrison, Rodrigo and co deserve every bit of praise that comes their way but, of course, this remarkable story would not have been written without the inspiration provided by one man.

“(Marcelo) Bielsa has done something right,” Heskey adds. “He’s got them super fit. When they go out on the pitch, it just looks effortless. Villa Park is a huge pitch but they made it look small!

“It’s a long season, you don’t want to get carried away and, for Leeds, top half of the table is a wonderful achievement.”

A wonderful achievement. And, on the evidence so far, a realistic one too.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

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