This hasn’t been the best of starts to 2021 for Leeds United.
They have lost all three of their outings this term but thankfully, Marcelo Bielsa has had over a week to reflect on where things are going wrong.
One of Leeds’ biggest problems this season has been their defence. They have shipped seven times in three outings this year and have the worst record when it comes to defending set-pieces in the Premier League.
Furthermore, they have conceded the second-highest volume of goals (34) in the top-flight. Only West Brom are worse than Bielsa’s side.
Therefore, change could be brewing among the backline. If that is the case then the first man to be axed from the XI simply has to be Gjanni Alioski. The North Macedonian has struggled this term and nothing epitomises that more than the battering he received at the hands of Dan James at Old Trafford.
Though, the left-back was also abject against Brighton. Alioski made a horrendous individual error and also surrendered possession as many as 17 times. That happened to be the fourth-worst tally recorded by any Leeds player on the pitch.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this form, though. After all, he’s previously been described as a “liability” by Leeds pundit Noel Whelan.
As a result, he simply has to be dropped.
Fortunately, Leeds have received a timely injury boost over the last fortnight. Diego Llorente returned to action for Leeds U23s last week and thus, is fit to be in the squad to face Brighton.
The Spaniard has played just once since penning terms last summer but such is Leeds’ poor defensive record that he should immediately come into the side to partner Liam Cooper.
That means that Luke Ayling would finally be able to shift over to his preferred position of right-back.
The former Yeovil man has played in the middle in each of his last seven outings so it will be a welcome return to the flanks.
Stuart Dallas has been deputising at right-back but Alioski’s inconsistent form gives the Northern Irishman an opportunity to keep his place in the team and move to the left.
It’s an area Dallas is familiar with having playing in that role on 17 occasions last season. We know that the versatile defender is Mr Consistent at Elland Road and won last season’s Players’ Player of the Year for his displays at the back.
Unlike the £3.6m-rated Alioski, Bielsa can be assured that Dallas would do a capable job on the left this evening.