Premier League safety is within touching distance for Leeds United but by no means is it guaranteed.
The Whites’ 0-0 stalemate with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday night moved them five points clear of Frank Lampard’s Everton, meaning their destiny is firmly in their own hands with five games left to play.
Failure to pick up any points during that run, combined with the possibility of the Toffees and Burnley making up ground, could leave manager Jesse Marsch sweating heading into the final few weeks of the 2021/22 campaign.
He could do himself a favour, though, by axing two of his faltering stars in Mateusz Klich and Daniel James.
Both players were hooked prematurely on Monday.
The Poland international lasted until half-time before being replaced by Robin Koch, largely due to him being left an absolute passenger, whilst the Welsh winger was taken off for academy gem Sam Greenwood, a rather damning indictment on his performance.
Leeds’ disastrous duo have struggled for form throughout the season, and perhaps one is more worrying than the other given he is the club’s record £30m signing.
During his time at Manchester United, pundit Darren Bent described the winger as “headless” in his decision making and with only three direct goal contributions in the last 11 games, we’re starting to see that – none of which have been him finding the net either.
Some of his poor form can be attributed to the fact that he’s been filling in for the injured Patrick Bamford but apart from his speed, he has offered very little threat otherwise. Indeed, he currently ranks 12th for average WhoScored rating. Eight players are managing more successful dribbles per game than him, too.
Meanwhile, Klich ranks 17th, which is the worst of any player to have started 21 or more league games this term.
Earlier in the year, Sky Sports pundit Clinton Morrison described the Pole as being “non-existent” in midfield and we caught another glimpse of that earlier this week as he managed only 26 touches and 13 accurate passes in the 45 minutes he was on the pitch, per SofaScore.
It’s hard to make a case for either of the two stars to keep their place amongst the starting XI heading into some tough encounters. City, Arsenal and Chelsea all possess the firepower and strength to devour the struggling duo.
As such, Marsch must look to axe the pair of them as they continue to hold back his side during this relegation dogfight.