Leeds United travel to the capital to face West Ham at the London Stadium for the second time in seven days on Sunday afternoon.
Marcelo Bielsa listed his complete starting XI when lightly prompted two days ahead of Leeds’ meeting with West Ham in December 2020. Despite David Moyes’ suggestion that the Argentine coach may be ‘bluffing’, Bielsa delivered on his unconventional team news briefing.
Unfortunately (for this piece in particular), the ‘backlash’ Bielsa’s honesty caused ensured the Leeds manager would refrain from any repeat thereafter.
So, here is the best guess at the lineup he may select come Sunday.
Illan Meslier (GK) – Only the goalkeepers for the division’s leading trio of teams are expected to play the ball around the back more frequently than Leeds’ regularly tested 21-year-old.
Luke Ayling (RB) – The former Arsenal academy player has been treated to just one Premier League victory in a punctuated campaign.
Robin Koch (CB) – The injury riddled Germany international hasn’t started a senior club match that ends in a Leeds clean sheet since November 2020.
Leo Fuhr Hjelde (CB) – The 18-year-old was given his first team debut against West Ham last weekend but may be rapidly back in action following the bizarre decision to let the marginally more senior Cody Drameh join Cardiff on loan amid a personnel crisis.
Junior Firpo (LB) – Despite his uncertain fitness, the raft of injuries proliferated throughout the squad may force Firpo into the lineup.
Adam Forshaw (DM) – His upcoming opposition manager David Moyes afforded Forshaw just 98 minutes of first team football during their shared time at Everton, before allowing him to join Brentford for free in 2012.
Mateusz Klich (CM) – The Polish midfielder started 108 of Bielsa’s first 109 league matches but has missed almost half of the available starting XIs in the subsequent year (18 of 39).
Stuart Dallas (CM) – When listing the vast array of Dallas’ versatile qualities, Bielsa compared the Northern Ireland international to Javier Zanetti, a player so legendary Inter retired his number four shirt.
Raphinha (RW) – Leeds’ indisputable game-changer has opened the scoring in six separate matches this season – the most of any Premier League player.
Dan James (ST) – With the impressive youngster Joe Gelhardt joining the glut of Leeds strikers (and those in every other position) sidelined by injury, James may be shunted through the middle.
Jack Harrison (LW) – One of only five players to rack up as many as eight non-penalty Premier League goals and assists last season, Harrison can sheepishly point to one of each this term.