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.
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.
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.
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.
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.