Once again, Marcelo Bielsa made the unconventional decision to announce, or at least infer, his starting line-up for Wednesday’s Championship match against Swansea City. It is as follows:
Kiko Casilla: To be expected, Casilla had a very good game that went largely unspoken of away at Boro.
Gianni Alioski: Again playing at an unorthodox left-wing back sort of position. Though once a natural full-back, we are used to seeing Ezgjan play further up. This isn’t to say he hasn’t registered some respectable performances in the role.
Pontus Jansson: A regular at the centre-back position, though we are lacking in options, Pontus would definitely be starting should Berardi have been available we presume. Leeds must be wary however, as the variety of Swansea’s attacks will be considerable compared to the fairly one dimension threat Boro posed.
Liam Cooper: Another regular feature of this side. Cooper has come on leaps and bounds over the course of the season and will have to put in another assured performance to keep Swansea at bay.
Luke Ayling: Perhaps my only sticking point with this side as it is. Ayling has dropped in performance of late but Bielsa has stuck by his man here, saying he feels he has performed adequately defensively still. The instruction then may be for Ayling to look to get rid of the ball to a more capable player when he receives it rather than looking to take it to the halfway line or even further himself.
Kalvin Phillips: Saturday’s hero despite a lapse of performance on their goal. Needs a stronger presence from Klich in front for support or it makes this particular role ten times harder. Though, his distribution and screening of the defence was good nonetheless and will only continue to approve as Kalvin adjusts back into this role.
Mateusz Klich: We’re going to need a stronger performance from Mateusz. He has shown he is capable of running the show though has struggled to get his foot in the game and take control of the midfield of late.
Jack Harrison: A lack of other options means Harrison starts again in what has been a fairly long-run in the first team now. We are yet to see a true bit of magic from Harrison or even impose himself on a game to significant effect.
Pablo Hernandez: The stats speak for themselves. Coming on at half-time following an injury against Boro and yet still finished with the most touches and passes of anyone in the whole game. Hopefully a full game against his old side will incentivise Pablo to make the game his own and help Leeds to dominate from the off.
Kemar Roofe: We presume Roofe will once again play behind the striker. Roofe showed some glimpses but is obviously still adapting to this role. His importance and quality means he has to be involved in some capacity and accommodating himself and Bamford will take some time to bear fruit. Perhaps we will see a more fluid attacking system with Roofe given space to roam through the centre and out wide and even take the leading attacking role should Bamford have fallen back to defend a set-piece for example.
Patrick Bamford: An ok game against Boro, though still finding his shooting boots back on the turf. Had a couple of fairly nice chances to slot them away at the Riverside though they went to waste. It’s these chances that Leeds need to make count more and putting the finishing touch on attacking movements is becoming a rather big problem for the Whites.