AFTER seeing Leeds United scrape through to the second round of the EFL Cup at Fleetwood Town, Lee Sobot looks at the key talking point having arised from the performance. Should Marcus Antonsson be a regular starter
LEEDS United’s new Swedish striker hinted at what he might have been capable of when coming on as a substitute towards the end of Sunday’s loss at QPR, and further advertised his talents in no uncertain terms on Wednesday evening.
After being introduced as a 76th-minute sub for Ronaldo Vieira, Antonsson got United out of jail 13 minutes later with his 89th-minute equaliser, and then earned the extra time penalty converted by Chris Wood.
The Swede’s turn and finish for his equaliser was particularly impressive, and there are now plenty of calls for the new recruit to start.
As was the case with Sunday’s clash at Loftus Road, United again looked much more of a potent threat going forward following Antonsson’s introduction and the switch in formation from a 4-5-1 of sorts to a 4-4-2.
The suggestion that Leeds should opt for a 4-4-2 system from the beginning with Wood and Antonsson up front is obvious.
But the other player to really excel yesterday evening was new signing Pablo Hernandez who evidently thrives in the no 10 role playing just behind the top line.
So is there room for Wood, Hernandez and Antonsson to all start from the off?
It would seem so as Leeds played the last 14 minutes of normal time of last night’s cup clash with all three on the pitch, plus the added period of extra-time.
United looked a menace going forward, but with holding midfielder Vieira withdrawn for another attacker, the Whites were always going to be vulnerable at the back.
Fleetwood were bombarded to such a degree that they rarely had the opportunity to threaten Leeds, but when they did, in the 111th minute, they scored.
So head coach Garry Monk has to consider if starting Wood, Antonsson and Hernandez is too attacking – especially against Championship sides who will be a different ball game to Fleetwood Town.
Hernandez quite simply has to start as the Spanish international looked a class above on his Whites debut on Wednesday and his favoured position is undoubtedly the no 10 role.
There is the option to play the 31-year-old out wide, but it seems clear that the former Valencia and Swansea City man is best in the middle.
And United have a more solid base if his role comes in front of two holding midielders - in Wednesday’s case Vieira and Kalvin Phillips - with two men out wide and one striker in Chris Wood up top.
But while Wood was clinical with both of his penalties yesterday, his overall performance was lacking so should Antonsson lead the line instead?
The problem there is that Antonsson would be a less obvious kind of striker to go it alone up front and he looks a natural with a strike partner.
But surely the Swede’s efforts on Wednesday were strong enough to graduate him from the bench?
Is it too much to line up with Wood and Antonsson up front with Hernandez lurking just behind? Maybe.
But then there have long been complaints about Leeds lacking attacking options.
It might just be worth a go, not forgetting also that there is also a rejuvenated Alex Mowatt to consider.