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Leeds United: Marsch must ditch Luke Ayling v Cardiff City

Leeds United return to action today but divert their attention away from the Premier League with a trip to Cardiff City in the FA Cup.

It is a wholly winnable clash, and despite the Whites’ precarious league position, Jesse Marsch will view the cup as a fine opportunity to gain some much-needed momentum after their poor run of form.

They have won just twice in their last 15 games in all competitions and as such sit just two points above the relegation zone.

It is a feeling that will likely be all too familiar for fans at Elland Road, given their narrow escape from the drop last season too.

The only saving grace is that the Bluebirds are in a similarly torrid run, as they are winless in their last seven games in the Championship.

Of that aforementioned 2021/22 campaign, one of the true villains to emerge for Leeds was Luke Ayling, who offered little defensively. This culminated in his reckless challenge against Arsenal for which he received a red card, an indiscretion that journalist Phil McNulty branded “reckless” and “awful”.

Although Ayling might have impressed in their hard-fought stalemate against Newcastle United a week ago with a 6.5 Sofascore rating, it is quite fair to say that Rasmus Kristensen has improved the Whites since his signing in the summer.

This is exemplified in his 6.91 average Sofascore rating, which is vastly superior to the 6.57 of Ayling this season and the 6.61 from the season prior.

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The Denmark international has offered a fine foundation on the right flank despite Leeds’ overall defensive deficiencies, as outlined in his match averages of 1.5 interceptions, 2.8 tackles and 2.4 clearances (via Sofascore).

This is again a vast improvement on the 0.6 interceptions, 0.7 tackles and 0.8 clearances per game of Ayling (via Sofascore), who has a proven history of letting his team down, as evidenced by that red card against Arsenal last year.

Who would you start at right back today?

Luke Ayling

Luke Ayling

Rasmus Kristensen

Rasmus Kristensen

The 31-year-old may have been a more than capable servant to the club across 231 appearances, but if Marsch truly values a run in the cup, thern he will want to return Kristensen to the starting line-up today in place of the £20k-per-week stalwart.