Leeds United 1 Las Palmas 0
The only surprise in the team Bielsa put out today against Las Palmas was that Pontus Jansson still wasn’t in it… but that was because he’s only just arrived back in Leeds after his extended post World Cup holiday. Whether he will now be suitably prepared enough to take up his position in the heart of our defence next Sunday against Stoke is anybody’s guess. Other than Pontus, we were also missing Adam Forshaw due to a worrying injury picked up in recent days. Ronnie Vieira took Forshaw’s place and the rest were the players who have kept their 1st XI status pretty much from Bielsa’s first selection at Forest Green.
Berardi Phillips Cooper
Alioski Saiz Vieira Hernandez
The game was not a great spectacle today and for me there wasn’t enough oomph in the side – Saiz, Alioski, Dallas and Hernandez all looked to be playing well below the level we know they can achieve, and that’s worrying. OK, we still managed to defeat a workmanlike looking Las Palmas side but did we really look good enough to compete in the Championship?
Saiz and Hernandez are the men we rely on for creativity and invention and we need one or both to find their better selves without delay! Saiz was withdrawn at half time and if that was Bielsa recognising that Saiz has not been himself in any of the three pre-season games the 1st XI has played, then he may have also decided that a better bet next Sunday will be the man who replaced him, Mateusz Klich. Klich has looked determined to grab a 1st XI spot in each game in which he‘s featured and impressed again today when he arrived. We also saw Lewis Baker in place of Vieira for most of the second half too so who knows if he could yet be a surprise inclusion. If I had to guess, I’d say that the form and lack of impact on the game shown by Samu Saiz is causing Bielsa a headache and today we saw him just checking out what options he has for that Stoke game.
Will we play 3 at the back or 4 when Pontus is back and Douglas is deemed ready to be included? Will Saiz keep his place? Will Patrick Bamford step straight into the XI if he signs in the next day or two? Who is the centre back that we must surely be talking with and who will shortly fill that number 5 shirt and will that be a back-up player of a 1st XI starter? How long is Adam Forshaw going to be missing for? Those are pretty much the questions left to answer as we now count down the days to that all important game with Stoke City.