22-year-old continues to provide Marcelo Bielsa with Leeds United selection headache

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Marcelo Bielsa had seen enough last night after 59 minutes, hooking Diego Llorente and wrapping the Leeds United centre-back in cotton wool ahead of Sunday’s trip to Norwich City.

Leeds fans know how important Llorente is. Without him this season they’ve shipped five at Old Trafford and two apiece against Everton and West Ham. He makes them better defensively.

The biggest talking point is who joins him in the heart of defence. A left footed player, of course, but a toss up between your captain and an emerging Dutchman that’s impossible to ignore.

Liam Cooper was excellent for Leeds against Wolves last weekend. That cannot be ignored.

Neither can Pascal Struijk, though.

He looked assured alongside Llorente in a real high-tempo opening 45 minutes from Leeds on Tuesday at Arsenal.

As our graphic shows, the 22-year-old was made busy with four clearances, six recoveries and three interceptions.

Struijk challenged five aerial duels and came out successful in one of those; perhaps the only glitch in an otherwise good performance.

In possession, the Ajax product continues to look the part.

He attempted five final third passes – four of which were successful – whilst he accrued a pass accuracy of 90% over the course of the 90 minutes.  

Llorente, whilst he was on the pitch, was Leeds’ best player and Bielsa’s side enjoyed their best moments before the premeditated changes.

Cooper gifted Eddie Nketiah the chance to double Arsenal’s lead 10 minutes after coming on, drawing a barrage from his usual critics.

It wasn’t the captain’s finest half-hour but we will, again, underline how good he was in stifling Raul Jimenez against Wolves. His outing at Arsenal is not the reason why his place in the side is under threat.

Struijk’s performance levels are becoming very consistent whenever he’s featured at centre-back. He’s commanding, yet assured and composed.

It’s always going to be Llorente. It’s just the question of who partners him in a fully fit side.

The answer for Bielsa is becoming difficult to ignore.

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Leeds United Season Ticket Holder at Elland Road for over 20 seasons. Currently nestled in N12, but occasionally offering views from the press box. We’ve been through it all together? You bet.