New Leeds United tactic could hold key to Premier League survival in Brentford experiment

Leeds United attacking duo Joe Gelhardt and Patrick Bamford have never started a fixture together

By Joe Donnohue
Monday, 16th May 2022, 3:00 pm

Leeds United's Premier League status hangs in the balance despite a stoppage time equaliser from Pascal Struijk last weekend.

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The Whites salvaged what could prove to be a valuable point at home to Brighton and Hove Albion as the Dutch defender connected with 20-year-old Joe Gelhardt's chipped cross to the back post.

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Relegation rivals Everton and Burnley both have a game in hand on United, meaning Leeds could slip back into the bottom three before Sunday afternoon's fixture versus Brentford.

Regardless, a win on the final day in west London would give Leeds their best chance of survival, even if teams around them pick up points in the interim period.

Supporters were dazzled by Gelhardt's assist for Struijk in the 1-1 draw against the Seagulls.

Clips of the youngster cleverly negotiating his way past Lewis Dunk's outstretched leg have been shared several times on social media as fans laud the ex-Wigan forward's invention.

KICK-OFF: Patrick Bamford and Joe Gelhardt stand in the centre circle as Leeds concede to Aston Villa at Elland Road (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Gelhardt's run-out against Brighton was only his fourth Premier League start, but crucially it came alongside Rodrigo up front, as head coach Jesse Marsch named an attacking line-up.

Meanwhile, injured centre-forward Patrick Bamford is expected to return to full training this week ahead of Sunday's crunch match in the capital.

Bamford has not featured since March when he was substituted with a ruptured plantar fascia against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

It was hoped the England striker could play a part in Leeds' run-in after being given a six-week recovery timeline but as yet he has not been named in a matchday squad since the 3-2 win at Molineux.

Given what is at stake this coming weekend, preserving Bamford if he is close to, but not quite at, full fitness makes little sense.

Having found the net 17 times last season, and delivered during big games throughout his time as a Leeds player, Bamford's inclusion in Marsch's XI appears a straightforward decision if passed fit.

Leeds require as many game-changers on the pitch as possible this Sunday; a combination of Gelhardt and Bamford offers the Whites every chance to preserve their Premier League status.

The only concern with this new tactic would be the lack of competitive action the pair have featured in alongside one another.

Due to the similarity of their roles, Bamford's injury-plagued season and Gelhardt's emerging status, the duo have only spent 32 minutes on the pitch together.

That came in the 3-0 defeat by Aston Villa in Jesse Marsch's second game in charge, a fixture in which Leeds looked comfortably second-best.

Currently, Marsch's alternatives are limited; a Sam Greenwood-Joe Gelhardt pairing would be a tremendous show of faith but perhaps lack the requisite experience in such a pivotal fixture.

Rodrigo partnered the young forward against Brighton but neither player had an excellent game, individual moments aside.

There is also the option to leave Gelhardt out altogether, but after his game-changing interventions against Wolves, Norwich City and now Brighton, the 20-year-old is a strong candidate from the start.

Whichever attacking formula Marsch chooses, Leeds must find a way to win the match at the Brentford Community Stadium.

Failing to do so will inevitably see the ingredients of Marsch's chosen attack heavily scrutinised given the multiple combinations available.