Leeds United will be hoping that they can do a number over close opponents Crystal Palace this afternoon. They will be looking to avenge their recent 4-1 loss to Leicester last time out, with individuals set to improve on disappointing personal performances.
Marcelo Bielsa made an odd call at half-time against the Foxes after he decided to bring on Ian Poveda for Jamie Shackleton. The right-winger’s presence meant that both he and Helder Costa were manning the right flank on paper, albeit Poveda drifted into the midfield a bit more. But to opt for a winger to do the job of a natural midfielder suggests something is off.
Fan favourite Shackleton struggled for game time last season but has already made three Premier League appearances this term. However, he has also featured in both the Premier League 2 and reserve league EFL trophy. On the surface, this could hint that Bielsa is hoping for the 21-year-old to gain a bit more experience before he is fully deployed as a senior Premier League player.
However, Shackleton boasts 52 first team appearances for Leeds so far, which is certainly a stat to be proud of. He was recently lauded by Michael Brown for being a “breath of fresh air” in this Leeds side. The Premier League could be proving to be too difficult for the £1,500-per-week ace at the moment though.
Many have struggled to adapt to the gritty, high-intensity nature of England’s top flight. As such, it’s more than likely that Bielsa will opt to demote Shackleton to the bench or even the U23 league for this season.
Pascal Struijk is looking to be the man the manager will call upon for the rest of the campaign. His versatility to play across almost any defensive position as well as in midfield will be a huge boost for the Whites and will allow Bielsa to change up his formation as and when needed.
This could come into play as early as today, ensuring Crystal Palace don’t find a way into the back of the Leeds net.