Leeds United begin the first of two successive matches against Premier League rivals West Ham United with a trip to east London in the FA Cup third round proper this afternoon.
And Marcelo Bielsa has plenty of decisions to make heading into kick-off.
In his pre-game press conference, he alluded to taking the competition seriously despite their rocky form in the top-flight leaving them on the cusp of a relegation dogfight.
“We always try to win in every official game we have. There is never a need for added motivation. Every time that the group plays, the desire is always the maximum and to win,” he said (via the club’s official website).
“We’re going to try that the characteristics of our play are expressed and that will allow us to beat them. Every competition is a possibility and we take it in that way. Every game we focus on it with the intention to win it.”
The Yorkshire giants were not blessed by the draw as the top-four chasing Irons were pulled out of the hat but they will be buoyed by plenty of confidence, having defeated Burnley last time out as that created some breathing room to the drop zone.
However, with doubts still lingering over Patrick Bamford and his injury, it remains to be seen how Leeds will line up down in the capital.
At Elland Road last weekend, Bielsa opted for Wales international Tyler Roberts to lead the line but that failed to pay off as he was withdrawn after just 58 minutes.
And whilst there is now an injury concern with the 22-year-old forward, he should have little involvement going forward as he is just not good enough.
“You know what you’re doing to get with Roberts with his attitude, his dedication and his application. But there’s no end product and there hasn’t been enough end product for a long time now,” claimed ex-goalkeeper Paul Robinson to MOT Leeds News.
“He does get himself in the positions but he snatches at chances and it wasn’t his best game in a Leeds shirt.”
A 90-minute performance may be too much to ask of Bamford on his return and having already come back, only to pick up another problem, Bielsa must be careful with his star man going forward.
But turning to Roberts in this time of need must not happen again.
If nine goals in 104 appearances isn’t enough to put you off, then his display last week should be.
As per SofaScore, he failed to win any of his duels against the Clarets, nor did he have any sort of influence on the game, managing 11 passes and only 23 touches – the fewest of any Whites starter. Elsewhere, he was hugely wasteful as he failed to find the net from six shots, in which only one hit the target.
In the past, he is said to have left Bielsa “furious” for one poor performance against Arsenal, whilst Gabby Agbonlahor once deemed the £47k-per-week passenger “shocking” and “not good enough for Leeds or Premier League level” to Football Insider.
Therefore – fit or not – Bielsa must be ruthless in his decision-making. He needs to axe Roberts from Leeds’ lineup for the foreseeable future. He’s been poor for a very long time and that does not look like changing.