New Year’s Eve for Leeds United will be an unforgettable event in the fight for the table with West Bromwich Albion.
The shape of the two sides reflected each other in recent months, each of which had long winning streaks in November and early December, before some dubious shape arose due to the accumulation of holiday matches, each of which scored five points from the last four matches.
Marcelo Bielsa still has problems with injuries – and a clear opportunity to see how Arsenal called up Eddie Nketia before the start of the game – but he also has many of his reliable standing gifts that can be called.
Here are three ways in which we think Bielsa might approach a trip to the Hawthorns.
3-3-1-3; Casilla White, Cooper, Isling; Alioski, Phillips, Dallas; Cry; Harrison, Bamford, Costa
White has conceded as many goals in their last four games as they did in the 21st before, with some particularly touching back marks against Birmingham and a lack of midfield control in the first half against Preston.
Players such as Pablo Hernandez and Adam Forshaw could potentially offer solutions to help Leeds dominate the middle of the field, but since they are still unavailable, changes in formation rather than in staff may be the best.
Switching to Bielsa’s patented 3-3-1-3 system could potentially strengthen the back line with an extra body as Dallas sinks to the right back (where he played his best football this season) and Ayling moves right back three together with Cooper and White. This additional cover also helps offset Alioski’s tendency to bomb forward on the other flank.
Phillips, as usual, would defend the defense and try to play the ball, which theoretically would put less pressure on Mateusz Klitsch, who had recently been struggling to impose control on himself. Forwards will remain unchanged.
4-1-4-1; Casilla Douglas, Cooper, White, Isling; Phillips; Alioski, Roberts, Costa, Harrison; Bamford
There are a few changes that Bielsa could make by sending four goals during her last visit to the Midlands, three days ago.
Gianni Alioski has provided two assists in Birmingham and has done a lot lately, getting close to scoring in Preston, but he looked guilty of two goals conceded by Leeds at St Andrews, caught from first place and showing the poor. Game controls to bomb ahead for their fourth.
Douglas’s return to left-back would allow Alioski to return to his natural role as a winger and allow Costa to go inside. The Portuguese can play centrally and fill the gap there.
Another option is to return Tyler Roberts. His best game of Leeds t-shirt may have been against Baggy last season, assisting Bamford twice. It was in the tenth role behind the striker, so it is worth repeating here.
4-1-4-1; Casilla Alioski, Cooper, White, Isling; Phillips; Harrison, Klich, Dallas, Costa; Bamford
In truth, this is the team with which we all expect Bilsa to go with him, with the slight assumption that he is worried about the rotation, and Bamford hopes to return after missing the beat last time.
The Argentine is not inclined to give up players when they are in a team, and with a lack of players suitable for central midfield, in truth, Bielsa does not have many viable options to tinker with his team.
It will probably be ten of the same XI that beat West Brom 1-0 on Elland Road back in October. The only difference is that Luke Eiling plays with Jamie Shackleton, and last time Dallas played with right-back, but went on to midfield.
Unfortunately, despite returning to form, Shackleton missed the last two matches and is unlikely to return to the starting lineup.
Tell us what you think and choose your team below …
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