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Leeds United: Predicted starting XI to face Sunderland

Leeds United predicted line-up to face Sunderland.

Heading into tomorrow night’s fixture against Sunderland at Elland Road, Leeds United currently sit in third place just a point off the automatic promotion places so they will be hoping for three points this week to bounce back after defeat to Coventry.

The Black Cats of Sunderland are currently languishing in 13th with little left to play for, meaning they just have pride left to play for as they look to complete a league double over Leeds.

As mentioned, Leeds suffered from a surprising setback against Coventry City on Saturday when they were defeated 2-1 despite a consolation goal from Joel Piroe. This was their first loss of 2024 which ends an impressive unbeaten run of form, so they will be aiming to get back on track as quickly as possible.

Whereas for Sunderland, they will be looking to repeat the 1-0 victory over the Whites from last December at the Stadium of Light thanks to Jobe Bellingham’s strike. In their last four visits to Elland Road, Sunderland have picked up three wins and a draw, so Daniel Farke’s side must not take this game lightly.

Given the pace at the top of the table, Leeds can’t afford any more slip-ups and winning their remaining five games is a necessity, so manager Farke must get his team selection right on Tuesday night. Here is what we think he will go with:

GK: Ilan Meslier

Meslier had a tough time of it last time out against Coventry and should have done better for the Sky Blues’ first goal on Saturday. Despite this, the French stopper has re-established himself as Leeds’ number-one this campaign after an inconsistent season last time out when they were relegated from the Premier League. Leeds have conceded the least amount of goals out of anyone in the division, 33, and Meslier has to take a lot of credit for that. He will be hopeful to get back on track at Elland Road on Tuesday night and keep another clean sheet on the road to a Leeds victory.

RB: Archie Gray

The great-nephew of club legend Eddie Gray, Archie, has been very versatile for Leeds this season as he has been able to adapt to play at right-back. The 18-year-old, who is naturally a central-midfieder, has been utilised superbly by manager Daniel Farke and despite some troublesome moments defensively, he has, on the whole, performed superbly. He was another one who struggled in the first half against Coventry and there is no question he is much better in games against teams who pose less of an attacking threat. Sunderland may target Gray, but back at Elland Road with his home support behind him, the youngster will hopefully play his natural game.

CB: Joe Rodon

Rodon, currently on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, has notched up 38 appearances for Leeds United and has been rock solid in defence alongside his centre-back partner Ampadu. Despite falling out of favour with Spurs, he has been able to revive his career at Elland Road and has helped them to shoot up the table this season into promotion contention. The international break has upset the unbreakable partnership between Rodon and Apandu somewhat, underlined by a worrying defensive display at Coventry, but there is confidence in Rodon and his defensive team-mates that they will get on track for the final five games of the season.

CB: Ethan Ampadu

Like Rodon, Ampadu has been very reliable in Leeds’ back four, so their defensive skills will prove to be vital when they come up against ball-winning Bellingham and former Whites man Jack Clarke because the Sunderland duo are capable of terrifying defences on their day. At 23 year’s old, he has already won 51 caps for Wales, which is impressive considering Leeds United is his first permanent club where he has played regularly. Like the aforementioned players, Ampadu will look to put a ropey performance on Saturday behind him against the Black Cats.

LB: Junior Firpo

Firpo has had a whirlwind period since returning from international duty but has still performed well despite the Whites drop off in form in the away games against Watford and Coventry. Having already bagged five assists so far this season, he has shown his creativity in attack and there is certainly an argument to suggest he has improved defensively too. Last season he was criticised for his lack of defending, but he has turned it around this time out and managed to come back into the first-team fold. The left-back spot is his for the remainder of this campaign if he stays injury-free.

CM: Ilia Gruev

The box-to-box midfielder has dominated the Leeds United midfield and has looked very comfortable on the ball since arriving at Elland Road. The Bulgarian international wasn’t a regular for Leeds in the early part of this season but is one of Farke’s most important players now. There is a feeling that Gruev may not be fully over the ankle injury he suffered on international duty, an injury that saw him miss games against Watfod and Hull. The 23-year-old looked a little off the pace against Coventry so there is hope that the extra rest days since will have helped him get over his injury fully ahead of the Sunderland game.

CM: Glen Kamara

Kamara has been solid this season. Alongside Gruev he has built a strong partnership in midfield that has allowed Leeds to control games and move into contention for automatic promotion. Like many players and areas of the pitch, Leeds lost control against Coventry in the middle of the park, something we have not seen this season, so there will be an expectation from the manager and the supporters at Elland Road on Tuesday night for Kamara and Gruev to take hold of the game and dominate the Black Cats.

CAM: Georginio Rutter

Rutter has been very prolific as an attacking midfielder this season as he has picked up 15 assists, the most in the division. Despite this stat, it is his all-round game that has been most impressive with his ability to take one three and four players and create something from nothing. That bold, direct approach can be sometimes frustrating though, especially when it doesn’t come off, something we saw on Saturday. Rutter won’t change, we know that by now, so expect more mazey runs and tricks on Tuesday, let’s hope they come off on this occasion and we can see another masterclass from Georginio.

RW: Dan James

James is another player for Leeds United this season who has turned his career around because he previously struggled for game-time in the Premier League and was somewhat unfairly loaned out by Jesse Marsch. He didn’t let them stop him coming back this season though and showing huge commitment to the cause for the Whites. James has managed to pick up 13 goals and seven assists which is the first time he has hit double figures in his playing career. With Willy Gnonto still not fully recovered from injury, James will start against Sunderland and he will need a top performance to ensure he has the best chance to stay in the team between now and the end of the season.

LW: Crysencio Summerville

Summerville has been unstoppable this season and is probably the first name on the team sheet for Daniel Farke. The club’s top goal scorer by some distance with 17, Summerville has also picked up seven assists so Sunderland will need to be wary of the threat that he carries when the two sides face each other on Tuesday night. As he is still only 22 and has bags of potential, Leeds United need promotion this season otherwise the Dutch star will almost certainly leave. Victory over the Black Cats and another Summerville super show is definitely on the menu for Leeds fans this midweek.

ST: Joel Piroe

This is a shock call, but Daniel Farke may be tempted to make this change given the poor form of Patrick Bamford. Piroe has still scored a respectable 12 goals this season, including one against Coventry on Saturday, that despite little opportunity in the no.10 role. Bamford has missed two sitters in the last two games giving Leeds fans painful memories of the end of last season as many call for him to be benched. Piroe deserves a shot up top and Farke suggested that Bamford could be dropped in his pre-match press conference, though he did say it isn’t time to take risks. Mateo Joseph is also waiting in the wings having impressed recently, so whoever starts out of Bamford and Piroe needs to find their shooting boots. Farke could opt for the former Swansea man in this game to give Bamford a rest.

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