Cruel Leeds United blow yet halcyon days ahead of Crystal Palace return - David Prutton
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Leeds are now unbeaten in four and they are coming up against a side following a mixture of Premier League and FA Cup defeats.
On paper, you would think that this is a good time to play them but, in reality, there probably is no such thing as I have been impressed with what Palace have done this season under Patrick Vieira.
They went up to Newcastle United on Wednesday night and lost but Newcastle are pulling away from trouble and what they have managed to harness up there under Eddie Howe since the change of manager has been phenomenal really.
I’ve seen a couple of Newcastle games during that run and St James’ Park is a tough place to go now after it being such a toxic place so let’s not discredit how tough that is and, given the players that Palace have got, there is absolutely no chance that Leeds can take this one lightly.
They have got players that can really hurt you.
The game is ideal from Leeds’ point of view, given their form, and I will be interested to see what the last couple of weeks has garnered from being on the training pitch with Jesse Marsch.
On paper, if you wanted two contrasting runs to go into a game then perfect but, in reality for Leeds, it only matters if they come away with all three points.
Leeds will come up against Conor Gallagher who they tried to sign on loan last summer and he is a good player.
I have got a lot of time for him having seen him develop on loan at the likes of Charlton and then moving on up and showing everyone what he has got.
He has adapted to the Premier League like a duck to water.
Wilfried Zaha, on his day, can cause an awful lot of problems, as can Michael Olise if he’s passed to fit to play and then there’s Odsonne Edouard.
They have all been part of that front four/five at times going forward and obviously you have got Cheikhou Kouyate and then Jeffrey Schlupp that might do a bit of the holding.
But that’s a front four that can really cause you problems so there’s no need to dial down what the threat is.
There is an obvious threat there and it’s another matter stopping it which will maybe show how compact Jesse wants to be out of possession and how much he wants to contain players such as those.
I am intrigued to see the way it whittles down on the back of what Jesse said with regards to the players’ workloads as well.
I will be intrigued to see how fresh and fit they look coming into this one, which they should be.
Jesse has confirmed that Kalvin Phillips will make his first start since injuring his hamstring in December but Leeds have lost Adam Forshaw to a fractured kneecap and it’s like any rhythm of a season in that when one player drops out another comes back.
Adam was one of those players who was in a tricky situation that was really pulling his weight and I really feel for him with this injury.
When you read the phrase ‘fractured kneecap’ you think ‘crikey’ but even six weeks is poor timing because, obviously, it negates the rest of this season and eats into the off season for him.
But, given what he has been through, he has obviously got the mental and emotional reserves to be able to work through it, and we obviously all wish him the absolute best.
But, given that Leeds can bring a 100 per cent England international back into the ranks, it really is halcyon days for Leeds coming on the back of an injury such as that.
I will be intrigued to see how Kalvin operates and adapts to what Jesse wants from the player that he plays in that position.
But it’s ‘happy days’ for Leeds fans that they get one of their absolute star men back though it’s tinged slightly by the disappointment and frustration that I am sure Adam feels.
Up front, you would think that this would now be the perfect time for Joe Gelhardt to come in and start but we have said that so many times.
It’s a funny one because, if Leeds win at Palace, they are only a point behind them and everyone is raving over Palace and what a good job Patrick has done.
That just goes to show how keen Leeds will be to get the win and they have still got to be very mindful of Everton and Burnley below them.
Jesse has now had a good hefty set of time to look at what Joe can bring going forward and what Dan James can bring and Jesse is a very thorough and meticulous coach who will have had plenty of time to look through the different permutations of who starts up front.
Jesse strikes me as the type of fella that being as adaptable as he is and sounding as adaptable as he is that a No 9 doesn’t have to be a classic No 9 and a centre-forward doesn’t have to be a classic centre-forward if you have got players in and around him that can supplement the attack.
Whether it’s Dan who has got the pace or Joe who has got the hustle and the ability up there remains to be seen.
I would suggest it would be Dan given what we have seen from Jesse over his small portion of being in charge at Leeds, that it has looked like Dan being his first choice for now while there is no Patrick Bamford to contend with.
But you never know; he might spring a surprise and perhaps the fact that Joffy didn’t feature for the under-23s on Friday is an indicator.