Both teams have struggled so far this campaign and with the Whites winless in four outings across all competitions, manager Jesse Marsch needs to find a solution fast or he’ll risk his side facing a relegation fight for the second successive season.
The Hammers are just two points behind the west Yorkshire outfit and occupy that final spot of safety, so a defeat tonight could be disastrous for Leeds.
Marsch’s side have looked woeful in the final third, having managed just two shots on target in their last two games, albeit against defending champions Manchester City and the division’s best defensive side in third-placed Newcastle United.
One player who has epitomised the struggles is Jack Harrison, who is on a barren run of 12 games without a goal or assist. He was one of the poorer players against the Magpies, having lasted a little over an hour before being hooked.
The 26-year-old looked a bit lost as suggested by LeedsLive reporter Beren Cross after the game:
“Harrison, unfortunately for him, it just continued in the same vein that he finished the first phase of the season in.
“Really not having any real impact on the match in any way at all. Going under the radar, not making an impression in an attacking or defending sense.”
Well, the Whites cannot afford to carry a passenger in what is one of their most important games of the season, so Marsch must make the ruthless call to axe him from the starting XI, something he has only done once in the top-flight this campaign.
The £50k-per-week winger – once dubbed “awful” by CBS Sports’ Jake Winderman – has been a shadow of the star that bagged eight goals and eight assists in 2020/21 before another eight-goal return last term, having only found the net just once from 13 starts, via FBref.
Harrison is also registering fewer shots per game than seven other players, which is the worst of all but two of Marsch’s other attacking options (Joe Gelhardt and Wilfried Gnonto).
Such poor form would usually see a player dropped without question but injuries to his nearest challengers have kept that at bay for now, though with Crysencio Summerville lurking, it could be time for that to happen.
His inclusion in the starting XI is only holding Leeds back right now, so the American head coach must make the bold decision to name one of his favourites in Harrison on the bench against the Hammers this evening.