Leeds United’s relentless fixture list shows no sign of easing up as Marcelo Bielsa’s outfit are tasked with a tricky trip to Anfield tonight to face a Liverpool side hunting town league leaders Manchester City.
The Whites were on the wrong end of a six-goal thriller on Sunday as they were beaten by the red side of Manchester at Elland Road.
They were close to mounting a stunning comeback with two quickfire goals early in the second half but changes from the visitors paid dividends with both substitutes getting on the scoresheet to punish Leeds to a 4-2 defeat.
It was another reminder that there are serious defensive issues bubbling beneath the surface. It’s now 28 goals leaked from their last nine games, an average of 3.1 per game.
Given Liverpool’s front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota, it could be a rout if Bielsa isn’t careful but he is very limited on options with skipper Liam Cooper still absent and Robin Koch the latest name on the treatment table.
Diego Llorente’s form has been appalling too, especially in the game against the Red Devils as outlined by Football FanCast at the weekend, and he must not feature if the Yorkshire giants want to be a little more resolute at the back.
“Absolutely shocking” is how The Athletic’s Adam Crafton described his defending for Harry Maguire’s headed opener, whilst Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane claimed he was “cheating” and not focused on the ball but rather in grappling the player when the ball came in from the corner.
Instead, it could be time to unleash Charlie Cresswell once again. He has actually been subject to transfer interest from the Merseyside giants, so that only goes to show the talent on offer.
The 19-year-old really should be getting more game time considering Leeds’ struggles.
Not only is he a towering presence at 6 foot 3, but he too is excellent on the ball. He has only started once for the Whites in the Premier League this season but he was phenomenal as Football Insider dubbed him a ‘pass master’.
“It doesn’t matter how young he is. He’s shown that he can produce against some of the best in the Premier League,” ex-Leeds striker Noel Whelan then told the publication.
Indeed, he has proven his ability to mix it with the elite, so he should have no trouble in starting a game of this calibre in a stadium like Anfield.
Cresswell’s own glowing endorsement of himself is also hugely enticing, he told the Yorkshire Evening Post back in August 2021:
“I’m confident, I’m a leader, I like to play and I like to head it! There’s lots of players in the first team that I look up to, the likes of Coops, Bill, they lead by example and that is what I want to try and follow.”
Meanwhile, after that one start against West Ham, podcaster and presenter Joe Wainman backed him to become a mainstay, something that is yet to happen but perhaps it should be a mere formality now.
“That boy, for me, was unbelievable and I don’t think he should come out of the side. He’s a mainstay now, for me. I thought Cresswell was class, genuinely class,” he said.
On the above evidence, it’s time for Bielsa to unleash Cresswell against the Reds tonight. It could be a game-changing decision.