Leeds must start with three central midfielders against Bristol City to stop losing run

After such a promising start to the Championship season that saw them top the table after seven league games, Leeds United have lost four of their last five games to slip down to sixth position.

While three of those defeats came on the road, the latest reverse was against Reading at Elland Road on Saturday, when Modou Barrow’s late goal proved to be difference between the two teams.

However, Pablo Hernandez still had the opportunty to rescue a point for the hosts from the penalty spot but his miss summed up how things are going for the Yorkshire outfit right now, and Thomas Christiansen will hope that his side can bounce back when they face a trip to high-flying Bristol City on Saturday.

Despite narrowly avoiding relegation last season Lee Johnson’s Robins have lost just one of their opening 12 Championship matches this term, although they have drawn six of those – including at home to Burton Albion on Friday night.

They currently lie in fourth position and one point above Leeds, who have been beaten 1-0, 3-1 and 3-0 against Millwall, Cardiff City and Sheffield Wednesday respectively in their last three away league games.

Considering they beat Sunderland, Nottingham Forest and Bolton Wanderers on the road earlier in the campaign those reverses have come as a bit of a shock, but they also prove that Christiansen needs to take action ahead of the trip to Ashton Gate.

Following the defeat to Millwall, the 44-year-old decided to drop the likes of Samu Saiz and Pierre-Michel Lasogga from his starting line-up for the trip to Cardiff after they struggled to make an impression at The Den, but he restored them to the XI for the Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wednesday.

While it was a disappointing day and performance, the duo were probably two of Leeds’ best players and as a result Christiansen should be thinking about making a change to his system, rather than just focusing on swapping the personnel, against Bristol City.

Following two successive comprehensive defeats on their travels, no matter how loyal or stubborn the former APOEL FC boss is when it comes to his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, he needs to set his team up not to lose at Ashton Gate to get out of the current rut the team finds itself in.

Deep-lying midfielders Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips struggled against Sheffield Wednesday – with the former gifting possession to the Owls for their third goal – while Mateusz Klich and Phillips were also overrun against Cardiff.

The way to ensure that they are more solid in the middle of the park and have more control of the game against the Robins on Saturday is if they add Ronaldo Vieira alongside O’Kane and Phillips in the centre, and adopt something like a 4-3-2-1 or 3-5-1-1 formation.

Vieira has certainly had to be patient on the sidelines this season after making 38 appearances in all competitions for the Whites last season, with the majority of his game time this term coming in the EFL Cup.

The 19-year-old has featured for just 54 minutes in the Championship and wasn’t even in the squad for the defeat to Reading at the weekend, but he must be back into the first-team fold at Ashton Gate.

Vieira certainly showed his defensive capabilities last term when he made 43 clearances, 34 interceptions and 19 blocks in 34 league games, while he also won 51 tackles.

However, the Guinea-Bissau born player also showed the quality that he has to bring the ball forward and beat his opponents by successfully completing 17 of the 19 take-ons he attempted, and his ability to do that could prove to be key against the in-form Robins.

It is clear to see that something needs to change for Leeds on the road – even if it is just for the short-term – in order for them to stop the rot, and adding Vieira into the midfield could make all the difference for Christiansen and his men against Bristol City on Saturday, and he certainly deserves a chance.