Leeds United have had a tough 2018. After narrowly missing out on promotion last season, it looked as though Leeds were set to be in the mix for the play-offs again this season under Thomas Christiansen.
However, they suffered an enormous dip in form at the turn of the year. Leeds have won just three times since the most recent victory coming against Barnsley at the weekend. The manager has been replaced and plenty of the Leeds first-team have performed below par.
One player whose form dipped off since January was Spanish playmaker Samuel Saiz.
The summer signing from Huesca started the season with a bang. He was looking like becoming a cult hero among the Leeds faithful with his mercurial performances. But then it all went wrong.
Saiz was suspended for six games at the start of the year, following a spitting incident in the FA Cup defeat to Newport County.
During his absence, Leeds suffered and fans were excitedly awaiting his return to first-team action. Many felt that once Saiz was back, Leeds might recapture some of their best form.
That has simply not been the case. Saiz has struggled to find anywhere near his best form since returning to the Leeds fold. At the weekend, as Leeds defeated Barnsley, it seemingly came to a head.
With the Whites 2-1 ahead Paul Heckingbottom decided to pull Saiz from the action, bringing on the more defensive-minded Adam Forshaw.
That decision did not go down well with the Spaniard. He stropped his way off the field before kicking a water bottle in frustration.
It was just another example of Saiz’s often troubling attitude and the question must be asked, would Leeds happily sell Saiz this summer?
Since the turn of the year, the Spanish star has looked nowhere near as good as he did in the first half of the season. Saiz has struggled under the new management and has not scored since November.
The incident v Newport showed that Saiz can be a liability but if he had returned in style, fans would have quickly forgiven him. That has not been the case and Leeds fans are now questioning whether he should still be at the club.
Leeds will need to make some big changes in the summer if they are to challenge for promotion next season. One of those will have to be a huge attitude change from perhaps their most talented player.
Whilst Leeds should not be actively looking to get rid of Saiz, there will undoubtedly be some interest in his services following the impressive start to his campaign.
If his attitude does not change, then a handsome offer would be hard to reject from the Leeds hierarchy.
Fantasy Premier League: Five players to sign for matchweek two
There is plenty of names to swoop for ahead of the weekend’s fixtures.
Fantasy Premier League returned with a bang last weekend, with a number of high-scorers handing plenty of players a solid start to the new campaign.
Popular players Sadio Mane, Richarlison and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all rewarded those who selected them on the opening weekend, each earning 12+ points, while Watford duo Roberto Pereyra (5.2%) and Jose Holebas (5.1%) also caught the eye and secured huge points for the few that opted for the Hornets pair.
Ahead of matchweek two in the Premier League, we have searched the databases for five players you should definitely look to pick up to provide your team with a boost.
Bernardo Silva: Manchester City
The news of Kevin De Bruyne’s knee injury has sent shockwaves across FPL, with 16.8% of players still having the Belgium international in their squad. If you fall into that category, you should definitely look at dropping the midfielder.
Bernardo Silva is the most likely candidate to step up for the Citizens in De Bruyne’s absence and he enters this weekend’s clash with Huddersfield Town in decent form, scoring the second goal in last week’s 2-0 victory over Arsenal.
Huddersfield conceded 58 goals last season, more than relegated pair West Brom and Swansea City, so Silva can be expected to add to his eight-point haul against the Terriers – especially as he has scored five goals in his last seven starts.
Ryan Fraser: Bournemouth
Scorer of the opening goal for Bournemouth in last weekend’s victory over Cardiff City, Ryan Fraser brought home 11 points for the few managers who had the midfielder in their side – and just 2.3% of managers have the 24-year-old in their squad.
Costing £5.5m, Fraser is perhaps a more expensive option to other creative players at lower-end Premier League sides to consider but he certainly has the form to make his outlay worthwhile – as he has been directly involved in six goals in his last six matches at the Vitality Stadium (four goals, two assists).
Ben Mee: Burnley
While the rest of the Premier League prepares for their second match, Burnley are well into their stride as Europa League qualifiers mean that Sean Dyche’s side have already played five matches this season – and they are in superb form.
The Clarets have now registered three consecutive clean sheets across all competitions following Thursday night’s 1-0 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir, although extra time could have taken some wind out of Burnley’s sails.
Hosting Watford this weekend, Ben Mee and the Burnley defence will face a stern test but history favours the hosts – who have not lost to the Hornets at Turf Moor since 2004, securing three clean sheets in the last three meetings in Lancashire.
Roberto Pereyra: Watford
Selected by 5.2% of managers heading into matchweek two, many may believe that Roberto Pereyra’s 16 point haul last weekend was just a freak occurrence after the 2-0 win over Brighton but the stats suggest that is not the case.
Pereyra has now hit four goals in his last five Premier League games at Vicarage Road and now faces the challenge of transferring that form into away matches – and a game against a tired Burnley side who played 120 minutes in midweek is the ideal opportunity for him to shine.
Watford need to build upon last weekend’s win as they have a tough run of fixtures coming up against Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal, with Pereyra’s attacking flair potentially providing the key to breaking down a resilient Burnley defence.
Neil Etheridge: Cardiff City
In last weekend’s 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth, Neil Etheridge became the first goalkeeper to save a penalty on his Premier League debut since Allan McGregor in 2013 by denying Callum Wilson from the spot – earning six points in the process.
The Welsh side are back at home this weekend against a Newcastle United outfit who continue to suffer under the tyranny of Mike Ashley. Defeat last weekend against Spurs was not surprising but has raised the pressure for Rafael Benitez’s side.
28-year-old Etheridge is a good bet to pick up further points this weekend against a Magpies side that scored just 39 goals in 38 matches last term, the lowest tally of any top-ten side excluding Burnley.
Paul Gladon may need to change his thinking to seal Wolves exit
The Dutch striker has no chance of regular football at Molineux this season.
In the summer of 2016 Wolverhampton Wanderers snapped up Dutch striker Paul Gladon from Heracles Almelo. The striker had a good scoring record in the past with the likes of Sparta Rotterdam and FC Dordrecht.
However, the £1 million signing has struggled in England.
Gladon featured just three times in his debut season and was cast aside by Paul Lambert after his arrival in November 2016.
Then the Fosun era got into full flow and with the influx of new players Gladon found himself out of favour. He was loaned back to Heracles last season where he made minimal impact.
“He’s just not part of it. I’ve got so many players here. Paul has maybe found it hard himself. I think it’s maybe thrown him as well, how hard it is. I’ve just got to go with ones I think can do it, week in week out.”
The signing of Gladon seemed puzzling at the time and now, with Wolves in the Premier League, his chances of playing for Wolves again appear incredibly slim.
Gladon, like Joe Mason, Dominic Iorfa and Michal Zyro to name a few, has become one of Wolves’ outcasts and he needs to be shifted before the end of the month. Roda JC and FC Twente came knocking in July but, as reported by Tribal Football, he does not wish to play in the Dutch second-tier.
With time running out to find a new club he may want to revisit that stance or spend a season in the reserves.
After finally starting first Aston Villa game, Rushian Hepburn-Murphy must take chance
Aston Villa will hope Hepburn-Murphy can thrive at Villa Park.
Aston Villa faced Yeovil in the League Cup this week. A solitary goal from Conor Hourihane gave the Championship side the win and advancement to the second round. It was also a game which saw Steve Bruce give a chance to several young talents.
One such player was forward Rushian Hepburn-Murphy. The 19-year-old may have made his debut under Tim Sherwood way back in 2015, but this was actually his first start for his hometown club.
Hepburn-Murphy has been in and around the first-team for some time. His goalscoring record with the development team is a testament to his talents and Aston Villa fans are backing him for success.
He currently has a chance in the first-team and, he needs to take it now.
With Scott Hogan injured and Aston Villa not making big transfer moves so far this summer, suddenly Hepburn-Murphy has a chance to cement his place in the first-team picture.
The teenager, who has had to battle injury trouble in recent seasons, has the perfect opportunity in his hands. He worked tirelessly against Yeovil and that will put him in good stead. But a goal or two would get that monkey off his back and have Aston Villa fans calling for him to remain in Bruce’s plans.
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