This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Leeds United have dropped down to fifth in the Championship after results in recent games saw them register just one win in the last four. Defeats to Millwall, Charlton Athletic and a draw to Derby County have shown a slight concern in the goalscoring department recently, with just three goals in four games.
On the chalkboard
Although the Whites are the best defensive side in the Championship, they have the least amount of goals inside the top 11, scoring 15 times which puts them on the same amount as Luton Town in 18th.
As for the centre-forward role, Leeds are slightly undercovered in that department, with only Patrick Bamford and Eddie Nketiah the two usual candidates, as Tyler Roberts has played just 65 minutes of league action. Bamford has started every game so far in the Championship but has only netted four times in those 11 fixtures, whilst Nketiah has just two Championship goals, although he has played in only seven substitute appearances.
In theory, the Arsenal loanee has a much better goals per minute ratio than the former Middlesbrough man, with Nketiah playing 703 fewer minutes but still scoring twice. The 20-year-old has also scored another two in the Carabao Cup for the Whites and has so far proved to be a decent addition to Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
There was a debate last month on the two playing together up top, and fans seemed to love the idea. But is it really what is best for the club?
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But who should be sacrificed?
As Bielsa alluded to earlier on in the season, if Bamford and Nketiah are to play together, a midfielder must lose their place in the side. This would be a tough call for the Argentine to make, considering the form of those in question.
Pablo Hernandez has continued his breathtaking form from last year, scoring and assisting twice, whilst midfield partners Mateusz Klich, Kalvin Phillips and Stuart Dallas have averaged a 6.93, 7.33 and a 7.02 rating respectively so far. In truth, every midfielder in Leeds’ line-up thus far does not deserve to be dropped, especially considering Nketiah only has two goals in the Championship anyway.
Dropping a midfielder would potentially tarnish what has been the league’s best defence, and some players like Phillips and Klich have been just as important as the strikers at times this year.
So, would Leeds’ attack improve if one of the midfielders switches for an attacker? Potentially. But it simply isn’t worth damaging their fantastic defence to accommodate another attacker.
Would you be concerned if Nketiah was recalled?
Bielsa should stick to his guns and not drop a midfielder for the hope that it returns goals.