Jesse Marsch’s Leeds United head into tonight’s Premier League clash with Chelsea knowing that they simply must pick up a result at Elland Road if they are to give themselves the best possible chance of avoiding the drop this season.
Indeed, with Everton’s 2-1 win over Leicester City, coupled with the Whites’ 2-1 loss to Arsenal, seeing the 48-year-old’s side slip back into the relegation zone with just three fixtures left to play, it is almost a case of now or never for the American manager.
As such, Marsch must ensure that he gets tomorrow’s team selection absolutely spot on against Thomas Tuchel’s third-placed outfit, and, while there were very few bright sparks in north London last time out, one player who did stake a claim for a start this evening was 19-year-old Lewis Bate.
Indeed, having been brought on for the increasingly disappointing Mateusz Klich at the interval, the central midfielder immediately provided a spark of creativity for the 10-man Whites, with the teenager appearing desperate to get himself on the ball in order to progress his side further up the pitch.
This is something evidenced by the £900k-rated talent’s three progressive passes completed over his 45 minutes played – more than any other Leeds player managed – as well as his 17 carries of the ball and his 27 pressures of the opposition – the same number Kalvin Phillips managed over the full 90 – with Tariq Panja claiming that Bate was “one of the standout players” at The Emirates.
Furthermore, Leeds Live journalist Beren Cross also awarded the youngster a six in his player ratings – the highest any player in white received on the day – as well as stating of the England U20 international’s display: “A very promising half from the youngster, all things considered. Bright and energetic. Carried the ball well too.”
As such, with the Whites in desperate need of a result at Elland Road this evening, it would appear an extremely wise move for Marsch to finally unleash the 19-year-old who Jermaine Beckford claimed “isn’t afraid to get the ball in tight areas” from the off, as the youngster could well prove to be the creative spark Leeds have been desperately lacking in recent weeks.