With three games left of the Premier League campaign, Jesse Marsch’s Leeds United host Chelsea on Wednesday evening with the 48-year-old coach knowing that the Whites simply must better Everton’s result at Watford if they are to give themselves the best possible chance of avoiding relegation to the Championship come the end of the season.
However, although Chelsea’s form has somewhat tailed off in recent weeks – with the Blues having won just one of their last five Premier League outings – Thomas Tuchel’s third-placed outfit will nevertheless present Leeds with an extremely stern test at Elland Road, meaning that the American manager must ensure his team selection is absolutely spot on this evening.
So, will Marsch make any changes to his starting XI from the 2-1 defeat to Arsenal last time out? Here’s how we at Football FanCast think Leeds could line up against Chelsea, as well as the latest team and injury news…
With Marsch confirming in his pre-match press conference that Liam Cooper looks set to return to action this evening, while also revealing that Patrick Bamford will once again be unavailable for selection, in addition to the fact that Luke Ayling will be missing due to suspension, we predict the 48-year-old will make two changes to his starting XI at The Emirates.
First of all, we predict Ayling’s unavailability, coupled with Stuart Dallas being ruled out for the season as a result of injury and both Cody Drameh and Leif Davis being unavailable due to their loan spells away from Elland Road, will see Leeds set up in a 3-4-3 formation against Chelsea.
This means that, alongside Diego Llorente and Robin Koch, club captain Cooper will return to take up a place in a three-man backline, while Junior Firpo and Daniel James take up the left and right-wing back roles respectively.
In the middle of the park, after an extremely encouraging cameo against Arsenal, 19-year-old Lewis Bate – who Chris Spearing claimed is “like a whippet” – comes into the XI alongside Kalvin Phillips, with the “shocking” – in the words of Noel Whelan – Mateusz Klich dropping to the bench.
In attack, Jack Harrison and Raphinha start on the left and right flank respectively, while Joe Gelhardt – despite being sacrificed at Arsenal after Ayling’s sending off – retains his spot leading the Whites line.