Marcelo Bielsa is facing an injury crisis right now with numerous key players on the sidelines, including Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford, who were both instrumental in their successful 2020/21 season.
However, it doesn’t excuse some of the defending that has been on show, with versatile full-back Stuart Dallas facing the media after the City defeat.
“There was individual mistakes that cost us tonight [Tuesday] and you can’t get away with that at this level, especially when you’re coming to a team like this,” said the Northern Irishman. “[We’re] just devastated. It’s not good enough from us.”
Dallas particularly struggled at Elland Road on Saturday night, with 90min‘s Tom Gott describing the defender as “completely off the pace and guilty of so many huge errors”.
The 30-year-old hasn’t missed a single minute of Premier League action this term, making him a reliable option in terms of maintaining his fitness. However, Leeds have failed to match the standards they set last season, and Dallas’ regular inclusion could arguably prove to be a catalyst for that.
Having a versatile option like him will be of great use to Bielsa, who has deployed the £3.6m-rated ace at both left-back and right-back, as well as across the midfield. Despite being an ever-present in the Argentine’s line-up, he hasn’t contributed an assist since the opening day of the season and is yet to score in the 2021/22 campaign.
This is a stark contrast from last term, when the Northern Irishman scored eight goals and set up another two as he missed just nine minutes of Premier League football, albeit in a better-performing Leeds team.
Furthermore, Leeds have conceded 36 goals this term – only 19th-placed Newcastle have shipped more, and a common factor in all of their games this season is the continued presence of Dallas.
United’s weak underbelly has been particularly exposed of late, with the Whites conceding 16 goals in their last four games, an average of four goals per match.
Bielsa is unlikely to drop Dallas, with the 30-year-old a mainstay under the 66-year-old. However, he will need to find a solution immediately, as otherwise the Yorkshire club are going to miss out on available points at a crucial point in the season. Maybe the time has come for the manager to end the utility man’s ever-present status in the current Premier League campaign.