Leeds United face another tricky outing in the Premier League this evening as they head to Anfield to face Liverpool.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side head into the match on the back of a defeat to Manchester United on Sunday, where they were beaten 4-2, despite at one stage looking likely to mount an impressive comeback.
The Whites brought the game back to 2-2 having been two goals down but it was short-lived as the visitors’ substitutions proved crucial in swinging the game back in their favour.
It’s never easy in the English top-flight but Leeds’ fixture list could see them soon drawn into the relegation mire – after facing Cristiano Ronaldo and co, it’s now Sadio Mane and Mo Salah, before an in-form Harry Kane on Saturday.
If you’re a member of the Elland Road faithful, you’ll probably be sweating at the thought of playing these superstars because defensively, Bielsa’s outfit have been atrocious – and even that’s being fair.
Those four goals conceded took the Whites to a total of 28 goals conceded across their last nine outings, an average of 3.1 per game, in the absence of industrious lynchpin Kalvin Phillips and skipper Liam Cooper.
Both remain absent and now fellow centre-back Robin Koch has joined them on the treatment table, leaving Bielsa light on options but that shouldn’t stop him from axing one of his other struggling defenders in Diego Llorente.
He was arguably at fault for Harry Maguire’s opener at the weekend as he let the towering England international get a clear run at the ball from a corner and then he was nowhere to be seen for their second.
Indeed, his defending was deemed to be “absolutely shocking” by The Athletic’s Adam Crafton, whilst Sky Sports pundit Roy Keane also slammed him, claiming the Spaniard was “cheating” by grappling the Red Devils star rather than watching the ball swing in.
This has been a recurring theme in the games against some of the Premier League’s top dogs. In the 7-0 defeat to the other side of Manchester in December, the £57k-per-week liability was also lambasted for his mistakes.
“It was a shocking attempt to pass it out by Llorente,” claimed commentator Jim Beglin.
A seasonal average rating of 6.46 sees the 28-year-old colossus rank as Bielsa’s worst player, of all those to start in 18 or more top-flight matches. As many as ten other players are managing more tackles (1.3 per game) than he is – even Raphinha (1.5 per game), via WhoScored.
On the above evidence, the likes of Salah, Mane and Diogo Jota have the ability to teat Llorente apart at Anfield this evening and as such, Bielsa must find an alternative option to play in the role.
The Argentine has to be bold and ruthless in his team selection if they are to stand a chance of returning to west Yorkshire with something. The £16.2m-rated lightweight needs to be axed tonight.