Leeds United have been handed a tough test for their return to Premier League action this evening following the recent World Cup break, with the Elland Road outfit set to play host to champions Manchester City.
This fixture did not prove particularly fruitful for the Whites last season as the Yorkshire side shipped 11 goals without reply in those two meetings, with it even more concerning that that miserable record came prior to Erling Haaland’s arrival.
The Norwegian hotshot – who was born in Leeds – will seemingly be hoping to maintain his rampant start to life in English football with another clinical showing later today, with the 22-year-old having already bagged 18 goals in just 13 league games thus far.
Although manager Jesse Marsch will likely be concerned with trying to stop his former Red Bull Salzburg asset from adding to that tally, the American should also be considering how his own attacking unit can hurt the opposition, with the 49-year-old seeking to avoid a third successive league defeat.
The former RB Leipzig man has, however, seen his preparations disrupted amid the injury woes of a number of his key men, with it now an anxious wait to see if the likes of Jack Harrison, Crysencio Summerville and Rodrigo – among others – will be fit to feature against Pep Guardiola’s side.
That lengthy list of potential absentees could well provide a chance for summer signing Wilfried Gnonto to prove his worth from the start, however, with the Italy international having been restricted to just three top-flight appearances so far this term.
The 19-year-old’s only start in the league in the current campaign for his new club came in the defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last time out, with the teenager having been hooked at the break in that 4-3 thriller.
Nevertheless, the former Zurich starlet – who scored 12 goals and recorded ten assists in 74 games during his time in Switzerland – has shown flashes of his quality during his time in England thus far, having particularly impressed during the club’s recent mid-season friendly fixtures.
That impact was lauded by pundit Noel Whelan, who suggested that the youngster could now be deserving of a more prominent role heading into the second half of the campaign:
“I think he’s ready. Everyone has seen that. He’s had time to settle into the football club, into the environment, new teammates – and now he looks ready, and very hungry.
“There have been some real moments of brilliance in these friendlies. He’s like a firework when he gets on the ball because he’s just got so much energy.
“He is definitely a very exciting player and someone who can make a difference in this second half of the season.”
Having been eased into his new surroundings in recent months, the time has seemingly come for Gnonto to truly show what he can do by being given a consistent run in the side, with the club’s injury woes set to provide him what that platform to impress.
While it may not be ideal circumstances to unleash such a raw talent against the might of City, the 5-foot-7 sensation could well prove the hidden gem who can make the ‘difference’ tonight.