AFTER being dazzled by a Samuel Saiz hat-trick on the Spaniard’s debut, Lee Sobot looks at a few key talking points from Leeds United’s 4-1 defeat of Port Vale in the first round of the Carabao Cup at Elland Road.
What will happen after Michael Brown’s Samuel Saiz ‘spit-spat’ claims?
The glory of Saiz’s superb display threatened to be soured when Vale boss Michael Brown accused the Spaniard of spitting in the face of Joe Davis in the first half.
“The guy who scored three goals spits in Joe Davis’ face and it’s very hard to take,” said Brown.
“We asked their staff to take him off, they ignored that.”
Brown then said he expected a report on the Saiz incident to go to the FA but admitted that the video footage was not clear-cut.
But there appears to be no video footage whatsoever of the alleged incident and while Leeds have not made any official comment, the club do not believe the Spaniard has a case to answer. All rather odd.
Clearly, Saiz would be facing a lengthy ban if there was anything in the claims and he was found guilty and the story will be one to keep tabs on throughout Thursday and Friday.
The FA have been contacted by the YEP to clarify where they stand and if they will be taking any action.
Will Saiz start against Preston and who will line-up on the wings?
Two players quite clearly excelled above all others against Vale with winger Gianni Alioski almost as impressive as Saiz after coming on as a 57th-minute substitute.
Alioski looked a class act, full of pace, trickery, vision and confidence, and on that evidence the Macedonian winger must surely become a regular starter. And the same has to be said for Saiz who was the first Leeds player to score a hat-trick on his debut since Carl Shutt in 1989.
United definitely look to have unearthed two gems who still have time to improve with Saiz only 26 and Alioski 25, not to mention the duo have zero experience of English football.
And surely Saiz is heading for his first league start for Leeds in Saturday’s home clash with Preston at Elland Road?
That would mean Pablo Hernandez making way and it has to be said that Hernandez did little wrong in Sunday’s 3-2 win at Bolton so Christiansen might still find it a difficult call, for all that the temptation to start Saiz is obvious.
Alioski did start in Sunday’s win at Bolton and will surely keep his place so the other interesting conundrum is who else will start out wide?
Kemar Roofe got the nod against Bolton and put in a very good display but the recalled Stuart Dallas also had a strong game against Vale.
The gut feeling is that Alioski and Roofe will start out wide with Saiz at no 10.
Will Cameron Borthwick-Jackson make the left back spot his own?
The rest of the team for the Preston game by and large picks itself with Pontus Jansson finally returning from suspension at centre-back and set to partner Liam Cooper with Matthew Pennington out with an ankle injury. There are no updates yet as to the extent of Pennington’s injury.
Luke Ayling will surely revert to right back after doing a steady enough job of partnering Connor Shaughnessy at centre back as part of a makeshift and second-string defence against a pretty toothless Vale.
Vurnon Anita did okay at right back against Vale without having a stormer but the former Newcastle United player’s debut for Leeds actually came at left back in the game against Bolton in which he replaced the injured Gaetano Berardi who remains sidelined with a dislocated shoulder.
But Manchester United loanee Cameron Borthwick-Jackson came straight in at left back against Vale and is now highly likely to make that spot his own.
The 20-year-old looked quick, confident, rarely troubled defensively and, most notably of all, very keen to get forward. The defender was quite unlucky not to score on his debut.
Elsewhere in the side, Eunan O’Kane and Kalvin Phillips will surely keep their places in centre midfield given their excellent displays against Bolton though it was pleasing to see United have so many good options in that area.
Ronaldo Vieira and Mateusz Klich started against Vale, with Klich later replaced by Liam Bridcutt who looked strong in the latter stages of the game and showed an admirable response to being left out altogether against Bolton. Ditto Vieira who also looked good and while Klich did not exactly have a blinder, the Pole does show some nice touches and will surely get better as his fitness improves considering he missed a large chunk of pre-season with a muscle injury.
It’s obviously a no-brainer that Chris Wood will start upfront against Preston but Caleb Ekuban looks a decent back-up. At just 22 years of age and also with no experience of English football, there is plenty more to come from him.
The future of Rob Green
The one sour note of Wednesday evening’s cup tie aside from Brown’s spitting claims concerned the strange absence of last season’s first choice goalkeeper Rob Green who has been displaced by new arrival Felix Wiedwald, somewhat harshly to some.
Green did not look a particularly happy bloke when getting off the team coach at Bolton and the goalkeeper reportedly informed Christiansen that he was not fit an hour before training the day before the Vale game.
Whichever way you look at it, matters hardly look rosy for Green’s future at Elland Road.