Leeds United host promoted Brentford in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon buoyed by some signs of a return to form.
With just one defeat in their last six Premier League matches, including a last gasp winner against Crystal Palace in midweek, Leeds have the chance to secure consecutive victories for the first time all season.
Here’s the lineup Marcelo Bielsa may deploy to prolong that winning feeling.
Illan Meslier (GK) – Leeds‘ baby-faced shot-stopper has represented his national team at Under-18, Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 level but is still waiting for a senior call up his club displays surely warrant.
Diego Llorente (CB) – Bielsa is hardly a predictable coach but whenever his side comes up against a two-striker system – take Brentford‘s favoured 3-5-2 for instance – the Argentine tactician switches to a back three so his defence always has one player spare – Llorente’s ease in either formation was key to his signing in the first place.
Kalvin Phillips (CB) – In the process of quashing any suggestions of a rift between himself and the coach that moulded him into an England international Phillips bluntly outlined: “I will play any position the manager asks me. If he wants me to play centre-back I will play centre-back, if he wants me to play goalkeeper I’ll play goalkeeper.” Centre-back may suffice for Sunday.
Liam Cooper (CB) – With Pascal Struijk a doubt, Cooper will be tasked with marshalling a backline not entirely made up of natural defenders.
Stuart Dallas (RWB) – The equivalent of a blank tile in Scrabble, Bielsa can plug Dallas into any gap that needs filling safe in the knowledge he will continue to deliver a consistently reliable performance.
Adam Forshaw (CM) – In the wake of a hellish two-year recovery from a hip injury, Forshaw could be in line to make a fifth consecutive Premier League start.
Rodrigo (CM) – Not exactly a natural midfielder, but Rodrigo – one of only two Leeds players with more than a single Premier League goal this season – has often been deployed at the tip of a diamond midfield when Bielsa shuffles his pack.
Junior Firpo (LWB) – In a typically straightforward public assessment of his opening months in Yorkshire, Bielsa admitted Firpo ‘hasn’t been able to play a seven-point performance, but he hasn’t also played below a six performance’. Check back in on Sunday to see if this holds true.
Raphinha (RW) – Just 12 appearances into the season Raphinha has already matched his goal tally from the entirety of his impressive debut campaign (six) – and fortunately so, given the distinct lack of alternative goalscorers Leeds have been able to cough up this term.
Tyler Roberts (ST) – While Patrick Bamford inches towards a long-awaited return, Leeds’ most frequent substitute (12 cameos) may be afforded a second straight starting berth for the first time since April.
Dan James (LW) – Two and a half years after first posing with the famous white shirt, James – since his completed arrival this summer – has been playing through his adaptation to Bielsa’s demands in the starting lineup, showing gradual improvement on each outing.
You can read 90min’s preview of Leeds vs Brentford here.
You can read Bentford’s predicted lineup here.