Leeds United make their return to Premier League action sitting just one place about the relegation zone as they head to north London for Sunday’s late kick-off.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side finished inside the top ten in their first top-flight campaign in 16 years but are now looking perilous only two points above the drop.
The 2021/22 season has not gone to plan for the Yorkshiremen as they have battled with inconsistencies on the pitch and injuries off it.
Now they face a Tottenham Hotspur side who have a new manager in former Premier League and FA Cup winner Antonio Conte, who is unbeaten in his first two games in charge.
United are amongst the lowest scorers in the division, having scored 11 goals from their opening 11 matches – only two teams have scored fewer, one of which being rock-bottom Norwich City.
Indeed, the Whites have been futile in attack this term and that’s hardly a surprise with several of Bielsa’s wing options underperforming, most notably Jack Harrison, who delivered decent returns of eight goals and eights assists last year.
He now ranks as their worst player (six or more league starts), as per WhoScored ratings, having averaged a 6.33 and he is yet to register a single direct goal contribution from nine appearances either.
It means the bulk of Bielsa’s reliance has been on Raphinha (five goals).
The 25-year-old, signed permanently from Manchester City in the summer, is winning only 32% of his midfield battles and has managed just one shot per game, as per SofaScore.
His form has been so poor that Bielsa struggled to comment on his star man last month.
“You ask me a question where you know that I can’t praise his performances up until now,” he told reporters (via LeedsLive). “But what’s happening to Harrison is happening to all our players in the squad where they have better or worse moments and nobody is able to maintain a regular consistency in their performances especially when they are playing in attack.”
His latest appearance for Leeds saw further poor returns as he struggled against Leicester City before the international break.
The £18m-rated winger was their worst-rated player on the afternoon as he won just 33% of his 18 duels, lost possession 24 times from only 59 touches and contributed just 18 passes – four fewer than goalkeeper Ilian Meslier, via SofaScore.
On the above evidence, Harrison has been shocking all season, so it’s time for Bielsa to stop putting his faith in him. It would be ruthless considering his loyalty to him but it’s a call that has to be made heading into a crucial match against Spurs.