Leeds United travel to St Andrew’s with hopes of consolidating second place in the Championship but will have to do something they couldn’t earlier in the season, stop Che Adams.
The young striker netted twice at Elland Road earlier in the season and Marcelo Bielsa’s focus this week has to be on halting him.
Adams has scored 21 times for Birmingham so far this season earning himself a nomination for Championship Player of the Year.
The Blues striker is a dynamic player; combining pace and strength with a knack of scoring from range making him one of the most frustrating forwards in the division to play against.
The partnership he has struck up with target man Lukas Jutkiewicz this season has been nothing short of incredible – Jutkiewicz has assisted Adams five times already this season, often being at the heart of attacks which lead to goals.
If Leeds plan on stopping Adams they first need to be able to nullify to Jutkiewicz’s influence on the game.
Leeds need to make sure Pontus Jansson sticks with Jutkiewicz all day. the 6’4″ Swede is one of the only defenders in the division who can consistently get the better of Jutkiewicz in the air and if Bielsa assigns him to man mark the former Burnley forward, it will severely affect the influence that Adams can have on the game.
With Bielsa being the master of preparation he will be more than aware of the dangers Adams and Jutkiewicz pose as a partnership and he did a great job of stifling the latter in September, although he failed to account for the fact Adams likes to drop deep and shoot from range. Both of Adams’ goals at Elland Road came from outside the area with the striker having plenty of space to take his shot.
Bielsa needs to rely on Kalvin Phillips to close Adams down as soon as he gets within shooting range or else it could be a repeat. It can be a difficult task to battle Adams on both fronts but Leeds have to combat both if they are to stop him adding to the 21 goals he has netted already this season.