Leeds United host Brighton this weekend at Elland Road aiming to get back to winning ways under Javi Gracia after last week’s defeat.
A trip to Chelsea last time out wasn’t nearly as daunting for Leeds as years gone by, but the Whites couldn’t take advantage of the Blues’ struggles to bring anything back from Stamford Bridge.
Up next is an even sterner test for Leeds as they host a Brighton side on course to push for a European place this season as they sit eighth with games in hand on every side above them.
Javi Gracia will know his side needs a good performance to hope of getting anything against Roberto De Zerbi’s Seagulls, and a select few players with be vital to that happening.
Here, we look at two players who are going to be key if Leeds are to get anything from the game against Brighton…
Can Luke Ayling shackle Kaoru Mitoma?
It sounds like a futile question to even ask at the moment with the form that Mitoma is demonstrating for Brighton, tearing apart any full-back he comes up against.
The winger has burst onto the scene this season as a relative late bloomer at 25, but is showing all the quality needed to finally take Brighton to the next level after sitting in mid-table for some time since their promotion in 2017.
Leeds, meanwhile, have started to look more assured in the full-back area under new management, with Ayling and left-back Junior Firpo being far less exposed in each game under the Spaniard.
As a defensive display goes, Ayling’s 1v1 qualities are going to be tested to the limit here against the Japanese star, and should he keep him quiet, it goes a long way towards Leeds shutting out the visitors.
Predictions for the Brighton game?
Can Patrick Bamford end his goal drought?
It’s been a big theme of discussion this just how surprising it is to see Leeds missing the goalscoring influence of Rodrigo at the moment, but here we are.
The Spaniard is expected back very soon (if not today), but the onus is still on Patrick Bamford to lead the line.
While the number nine can hold his own against even the toughest of defenders in the league, Bamford’s lack of goalscoring quality this season is a major contributor to Leeds dropping points time and again.
To get out of this current rut, Leeds need to start converting the chances they so often create, and the buck stops with the man leading from the front.
If Bamford can recapture his best form in front of goal, Leeds stand a huge chance here.