It’s about 24 hours until Leeds United take on Forest Green Rovers in the first pre-season game of the year. Marcelo Bielsa takes on his first Leeds United game and debuts are set to happen, youngsters play and a system and style much talked about and much anticipated is set to arrive. But who will make the first Bielsa XI?
A blend of youngsters and experienced players as well as new signings will make an appearance and a win would be good. Leeds don’t have a crazy amount of games this summer but they have been specifically requested by Marcelo Bielsa, not the clubs but the level of opponents and at what stage of the summer. I’ve tried to mix everyone up, it’s not the strongest or what I would choose myself, but it’s a possible side we could see.
GK – Baily Peacock-Farrell – The young keeper has had quite the rise in the last six months but the pressure has been ramped up today. Leeds have brought in the very talented Chelsea keeper Jamal Blackman and he is probably the favourite for the number one jersey. These games shouldn’t be lost on us in terms of what they could mean for Peacock-Farrell.
RB – Luke Ayling – For me also the captain tomorrow night. I understand that Liam Cooper will probably be playing but in my opinion he isn’t the leader this team needs going forward, he wasn’t last season and when things got tough he didn’t get going. If Leeds go with four at the back I think Ayling at right-back is the most likely option.
CB – Gaetano Berardi – Leeds have just two recognised centre-backs, Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson. That’s as far as the depth goes but an interesting comment in Marcelo Bielsa’s first press conference revealed his feelings on Berardi. He was one of the players to get a mention, and it was due to him being flexible across the back four.
CB – Liam Cooper – Bielsa may well go with his famous three at the back, most likely the previous two mentioned with Liam Cooper the central of the three, Ayling to the right and Berardi to the left but due to the number of central midfielders at his disposal I think he may play two just to decide who’s in his plans and who isn’t.
LB – Tom Pearce – Leeds fans were absolutely delighted when Tom Pearce finally penned his new four-year-deal and why wouldn’t they be? I was a bit worried about this one when Everton and Bournemouth came in for the youngster but he is staying and for me he’s 100% the answer to our left-back problems. He will only get better under Bielsa.
CM – Adam Forshaw – The second player I would consider as the new captain. For me he is the central hub of this side. He’s the one who will set the tempo and make sure everyone else sticks to his high standards. He is a crucial part of how we will play forward.
CM – Yosuke Ideguchi – We already know what the likes of Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips brining and Eunan O’Kane and Luke Murphy, still at the club won’t be involved going forward. Ideguchi has been promoted to the first-team under Bielsa and he needs time to show if he’s up to the standard. Give him a start to boost his confidence and see how he goes.
RW – Lewis Baker – I don’t quite know what formation Marcelo Bielsa will play but if he goes for the three behind the striker then it probably won’t be set, they can all interchange and with the players we have that’s probably for the best. Baker can float around and the likes of Alioksi and Dallas are players who are probably more predictable than Baker who Bielsa won’t have seen much. Baker isn’t a winger but he needs time to settle, he needs games and against Forest Green he can do damage from any area.
CAM – Samu Saiz – Like Baker he can float around and play in a couple of different areas. He is going to be the key man for Marcelo Bielsa, is attacking playmaker he builds his sides around and if we can get him back into his form he’ll undoubtedly be the star of the show.
LW – Jack Clarke – The youngster was unlucky not to get a chance last season under Paul Heckingbottom in all fairness. Due to Tom Pearce and Paudie O’Connor getting games because they were needed Clarke probably missed out. He’s direct and has already impressed Marcelo Bielsa, promoted to the first-team within a week of pre-season training.
ST – Tyler Roberts – Kemar Roofe is the most likely scorer at the club currently and the best option that we know of for the striker role but Roberts needs games more than anyone. He hasn’t had one minute of first-team football, or any football since January and after the last five months he deserves a start. Let’s see what he’s all about.