It has been a tricky period for Marcelo Bielsa and Leeds United. The international breaks have stemmed the momentum, with a few injuries limiting Leeds to just three wins in their last eight league games.
A frustrating, but finally prosperous performance against Birmingham City ensured all three points on Saturday before Leeds dominated against Preston on Tuesday – but were in retrospect lucky to come home with a point.
Eddie Nketiah’s late goal kept Leeds in second behind West Brom, and ahead of Saturday’s opponents and bitter rivals Sheffield Wednesday. Bielsa needs to bite the bullet and make some changes, and here are three crucial ones:
Gaetano Berardi out, Tyler Roberts in.
Bit of tinkering here. Stuart Dallas has not had the same impact in central midfield as he has done from right-back. Pushing the Northern Ireland defender out to his more favoured position should be Bielsa’s first change.
It leaves a gap in midfield, in which Roberts should exploit. The Wales international has starred when coming off the bench. Luke Ayling should go to centre-back, and Berardi should be dropped – failing to look comfortable in place of Liam Cooper.
Gjanni Alioski out, Barry Douglas in.
Alioski is certainly a hard worker but since joining Leeds from FC Lugano, it is fair to say the Macedonia international does have the odd blip where he struggles to make an impact. Tiredness is likely to be affecting Alioski, right now.
He played 180 minutes for his country in the international break, as well as playing every minute against Birmingham and Preston. The left-sided flyer needs a rest, and Saturday should see Douglas given a go.
Patrick Bamford out, Eddie Nketiah in.
Even the sternest Bamford fans cannot excuse him now. The argument is that Bamford contributes more to play, whereas Nketiah just scores the goals. But Bamford has failed to score in eight Championship matches, in a row.
The former Chelsea striker had a number of chances on Tuesday night but failed to take them. It is time to finally hand Arsenal loanee Nketiah a start from the off, and add to his already impressive haul of five goals this season.