All Stats Aren’t We Starting XI Predictions

Kick off is within touching distance. Leeds United are almost back in the Promised Land. But what is the strongest team that Marcelo Bielsa can put out this season? We turned the question over to our team to see what they think…

Josh Hobbs

I feel that the majority of the team picks itself at this stage. The big call here is Patrick Bamford dropping out for Rodrigo because I think it would fundamentally alter the way Leeds play. However, I think after the early part of the season, Rodrigo’s quality will see him established in the starting 11 and I think he’s best as a centre forward rather than an attacking midfielder.

I can see Rodrigo coming short for the ball with the wingers acting more like wide forwards rotating inside and attacking the space created by Rodrigo’s movement. In turn, Hernandez would pull out to the right so that he and Rodrigo weren’t occupying the same space.

I’ve gone for Stuart Dallas at left-back over Barry Douglas or Gjanni Alioski because Douglas’ lack of pace could be exploited by the quality of wingers in the Premier League and Alioski’s issues with positional discipline could be punished.

Should Adam Forshaw ever recover his fitness properly or Leeds sign Rodrigo de Paul, I think Bielsa would use two classic 8s in midfield with Hernandez then either replacing Costa on the right or taking up his role as a game-changing sub as he was during Leeds’ end of season run-in. I’d be tempted to take the latter option as Costa’s pace in attacking transition could be a real weapon for Leeds in the Premier League.

You can follow Josh Hobbs on Twitter @JoshAHobbs

Joe Hill

This strange set up is more of a way of getting who I think are our best players into one team, rather than playing an actual coherent formation.

I’ve got Pablo Hernandez playing a free role on the middle-right (false 7?) where he can play out on the wing or drop in if Luke Ayling fancies a jog up the pitch. Rodrigo is also playing in this area but more offensively and almost as a second striker to run in behind the back line and receive some passes from Patrick Bamford’s hold up play.

Jack Harrison is isolated on the left waiting for the big switch of play. I doubt we’ll ever see this deployed but I enjoy the carnage of it all and I’m sticking with it nevertheless.

You can follow Joe Hill on Twitter @joehill96

Tom Woodhead

I love Luke Ayling when he plays on the right of a back three with license to join the attack and this team is mostly built around allowing that to happen. I’m also intrigued at the possibility of a second dribbler in that back three with the mooted signing of Josko Gvardiol.

It pains me to leave Patrick Bamford out but it would kill me to leave Pablo Hernandez out and I don’t see Rodrigo or Pablo playing the role Mateusz Klich occupies in this formation, so our record signing has to play up top.

Barry Douglas at left back is the clear weak link but the extra cover the back three provides should help, and he tends to link up well with Harrison.

Klich could easily be substituted for Adam Forshaw — if he ever runs again — and Helder Costa has the potential to be a potent weapon from the bench.

It’s nice to have options, even if leaving players out makes me a bit sad. I’d be awful at this management thing.

You can follow Tom Woodhead on Twitter @tdhwoodhead

Tom Alderson

If everyone is fully fit I think that Barry Douglas is the best bet at left back in the Premier League. Stuart Dallas worked well in the Championship when playing there as he allowed us an extra body in attack when we didn’t need a full defence but I’m not sure I trust his defending as much as I do with Douglas.

Leeds were at their controlling best at the start of the season with Mateusz Klich and Adam Forshaw as the midfield pairing which means I’m pushing Pablo Hernandez back out to the wing.

I’d like to see Helder Costa on the left wing because I think giving him the ball with time and space could allow him to be more dangerous than he is with less space on the right; as well as more dangerous than Jack Harrison. Costa is one of the few players in our team that can dribble as well which I think we’d miss if he was benched.

I’m not too happy about benching Patrick Bamford but Rodrigo is too good a player to not play and he’s (hopefully) more likely to put away the chances Bamford puts into the Kop. It’s the first time in a while I’ve felt we’ve got good attacking options on the bench which makes a nice change.

You can follow Tom Alderson on Twitter @tomalderson97

Darren Driver

Obviously, this is subject to change depending on Adam Forshaw’s fitness and other arrivals between now and the end of the window.

I’d still like to see a clear first choice left back come in: all three of our options are compromises. Another high level attacking player/eventual Pablo Hernandez replacement is required too.

I think this line up gives us the best balance of solidity, ball retention and guile. When we need to play more on the break or have a higher level of wide defensive output, Helder Costa would come in for Pablo Hernandez.

In all likelihood, we’ll start with Patrick Bamford up top and Rodrigo on the bench.

You can follow Darren Driver on Twitter @DarrenDriver

Jon Mackenzie

No real surprises in here. There are three contentious decisions:

Dropping Helder Costa for Pablo Hernandez. Given the first half set up versus Pacos de Ferreira, I suspect we might see Hernandez back out on the right with the option of then bringing Costa on as an outlet in the second half. This works for me as an approach.

Rodrigo over Patrick Bamford. It seems impossible not to play the club record signing although it makes sense to break him in gently so we’re likely to see Bamford from the off. I’m not a fan of playing Rodrigo out wide: he does a job there but his skill-set needs to be utilised in the middle. And I’m not putting him in the midfield.

Stuart Dallas over Barry Douglas or Gjanni Alioski. I’m not particularly fussed on the difference between Douglas or Dallas. I think Dallas offers you more scope going forward but Douglas’ balls into the box could be a threat too. Douglas shades Dallas in the build-up phase too. I would take either but Dallas probably deserves the spot more at this point.

As for the two eights, I like the Adam Forshaw/Mateusz Klich combo. They were fundamental to what was our strongest team last season. If Rodrigo De Paul is brought in, I would favour dropping Klich over Forshaw. De Paul needs to be allowed to get into more advanced areas and I think Forshaw would be the best foil to allow that.

You can follow Jon Mackenzie on Twitter @Jon_Mackenzie

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