A 2-0 win over Bristol City brought Leeds United back to winning ways following a dreadful 4-1 defeat against West Bromwich Albion before the international break. Yet the Whites were not impressive enough this weekend and the marching order of Robins’ midfield star Josh Brownhill allowed Marcelo Bielsa’s men to break the deadlock midway through the second half.
Leeds are now set to host struggling Reading FC on Tuesday night, and the fixture at Elland Road should be viewed as an opportunity to regain momentum overcoming late stumbles.
The Whites were having an incredible run in the early months but suffered significant injury blows that have now caused enough crisis in multiple positions.
Luke Ayling [MCL] Gaetano Berardi [hamstring] and Patrick Bamford [knee] remain the long-term absentees whereas Pontus Jansson and Tom Pearce are also unavailable with foot injuries.
They are in further trouble between the sticks with Jamal Blackman unlikely to feature this term again after breaking his leg. Bailey Peacock-Farrell, current Leeds ‘number 1’, is still a doubt following a knee strain that ruled him out of the Bristol game.
Izzy Brown, the young Chelsea loanee, is back in training after a long injury layoff but not ready yet to be considered for first-team action.
Bielsa is hailed for his creativity and strategic masterclass that earned him fame across the globe. He, however, has not experimented much so far and is tipped to line the Whites up in a usual 4-1-4-1 pattern against the Royals.
Manager: Marcelo Bielsa
Bielsa was left with Kamil Miazek and William Huffer, two academy prospects against Bristol and relied on the latter who had a dominant outing. But the Argentine might welcome the return of Bailey Peacock-Farrell who is in contention to feature against Reading.
A crisis at the back has forced the gaffer to deploy versatile Stuart Dallas as a makeshift right-back. Aapo Halme, the Finnish youth international, made his Leeds debut on Saturday afternoon and should retain his place unless Jansson recovers in time and is declared fit to face Paul Clement’s men. Skipper Liam Cooper will partner Halme in central defence whereas Barry Douglas should keep operating from the left-hand side of Leeds’ ‘back four’.
Though a bit inconsistent at times, Kalvin Phillips has been the one who is featuring in the ‘hole’ between the backline and ‘midfield four’. The homegrown prodigy will look to marshall the deep defence if needed and also take part in the build-up exhibiting his creative traits.
Adam Forshaw and Mateusz Klich have been the preferred central midfield pair, and they should start in the middle of the park. Samuel Saiz has been influential coming on as a second-half substitute and is likely to be utilised similarly on Tuesday night.
Although Jack Harrison made an instant impact against the Robins, Bielsa should retain Ezgjan Alioski from the beginning for his crossing skills and cut insides down the left flank. Veteran Pablo Hernandez is one of their vital resources who should keep on contributing upfront from his right midfield role.
Leeds have an exquisite ‘number 9’ in Kemar Roofe who is not only scoring goals week in week out but also linking up well with fellow attackers to create space and threaten the opponents. He would be lined up as the lone centre-forward whereas teenager Tyler Roberts is set to remain as the understudy in the absence of Bamford.
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