After a torrid start to the New Year for Leeds, all Marcelo Bielsa was looking for over the past week and a half was some positive news.
A run of three straight defeats without a goal being scored sets the scene for Leeds at the moment but fortunately, they were handed a monumental boost to their chances of beating Newcastle on Monday.
In Bielsa’s pre-match press conference ahead of the clash, he confirmed that Leeds would have goalkeeper Illan Meslier back.
The news was confirmed by Adam Pope on Twitter who revealed the Leeds head coach told reporters that Meslier “has resolved his health issues.”
The French stopper hasn’t played for Leeds since the 3-0 defeat to Tottenham in their opening game of 2021.
Though, it will be a huge relief to have him back in the side this evening. That’s because they’ve been relying on the calamitous Kiko Casilla.
The Spaniard came into the team to play Crawley in the FA Cup a fortnight ago but he was absolutely disastrous between the sticks.
Casilla let Crawley’s first goal through his arms and then had an even bigger howler for the second. The shot was straight at the ‘keeper but it somehow squirmed underneath him and rolled past him into the net.
It was an error-stricken performance that cost Leeds their place in the FA Cup but given how his career at Elland Road has played out, it was hardly a surprise to see him full of mistakes.
The Whites’ defence always looks someway short of confidence when Casilla plays so having Meslier to come back will be a huge bonus.
He has been excellent for Leeds this term and had a superb game against Burnley a few weeks ago. Meslier saved four attempts at goal and made a mighty five punches – the vast majority of which came late in the game when his team were under pressure.
The 20-year-old is one of the best young goalkeepers in the country and has made the sixth most saves of anyone in the Premier League this season.
It’s pretty evident why this change in the Leeds team will be game-changing for Bielsa. Meslier is far more assured than Casilla.