Following a loss against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the EFL Cup on Wednesday – a match in which head coach Jesse Marsch made ten changes to his regular first eleven – any sort of result at Tottenham on Saturday would be crucial for Leeds to secure a solid league position before the World Cup break.
In a bid to make it three wins from their last three Premier League games Marsch will most likely revert to the squad which earned him vital consecutive wins over Liverpool and Bournemouth.
This is how we think Leeds will line up at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the weekend.
Illan Meslier (GK) – after affirming that Meslier is the clear first choice goalkeeper for the Whites in his pre-match press conference, he will undoubtedly start between the sticks on Saturday despite being replaced by Joel Robles for the game against Wolves. Having made 41 saves in 13 appearances so far this season, there is no wonder that Marsch has such confidence in the young Frenchman.
Rasmus Kristensen (RB) – after receiving a national call-up for Denmark on Tuesday Leeds’ attacking full-back will be high on confidence. He does sit one yellow card away from a one-match suspension, however, so will have to be disciplined when tackling to ensure he retains his place in the squad for the first game back after the break against Manchester City.
Robin Koch (CB) – despite disappointment for Koch this week as he missed out on being part of Hansi Flick’s World Cup squad for Germany, he has been a consistently solid performer for Leeds this season. A few shaky moments against Bournemouth will not be enough to deter Marsch from putting the German back into his starting XI.
Liam Cooper (CB) – since returning from injury in October’s 0-0 encounter with Aston Villa, club captain Cooper, much like his defensive partner Koch, has been a core component of Leeds’ back line. A leader both on and off the pitch, there is no doubt he will start on Saturday.
Pascal Struijk (LB) – it speaks volumes about the quality of Struijk’s performances that – even as a centre-back – he performs better as a left-back than Junior Firpo, a player who was brought in to occupy that position. The reality remains that, aside from cup games like the one against Wolves midweek, Firpo is struggling to displace him and make the full-back position his own. The squad selection on Saturday will be no different in this regard.
Tyler Adams (CDM) – since signing for the Whites in summer Adams has become a constant in one of the two holding midfield roles in Marsch’s 4-2-3-1 system, having missed only one game this season due to injury. As a single-minded, combative presence on the pitch Adams’ role will primarily be preventing opposition striker Harry Kane from sitting deep and attempting to start a quick Spurs attack.
Marc Roca (CDM) – Roca goes one better than his midfield partner Adams in terms of appearances this season, having started every game so far for the Whites. His ability to pick up a ball from deep in the pitch and subsequently play an accurate long pass could be pivotal in unbalancing an organised Spurs defensive line.
Crysencio Summerville (LW) – after scoring three goals in his last three games, two of which turned out to be match winners, it is crucial Summerville starts against Spurs to see if he can continue his impressive run of form. Given that he was rested against Wolves on Wednesday, there is a high chance that Jesse Marsch is of the same opinion.
Brendan Aaronson (CAM) – similar to his fellow American Tyler Adams, energetic number ten Aaronson will approach this game brimming with confidence after receiving a call-up for the USA national team this week. Appearing in all games this season, notching one goal and one assist in the process, Aaronson has been unlucky not to have scored more after hitting the woodwork twice. Perhaps Saturday will bring an opportunity for the young American to make his stats more reflective of his influential performances.
Wilfried Gnonto (RW) – with the news emerging earlier that the regular occupant of this position, Jack Harrison, is now a doubt to start against Spurs due to a muscle injury surely now is the time to gift young Italian international Gnonto his first Premier League start. Like his close friend Summerville, Gnonto possesses a technical ability, as well as a preternatural footballing maturity, that could prove an issue for Spurs’ defence if he were to feature in Marsch’s starting XI.
Rodrigo Moreno (ST) – after his petulant pitch-side display after being substituted against Bournemouth last Saturday, a goal against Tottenham at the weekend would be the perfect way to atone. Rodrigo is a nailed-on starter due to his primary competition for the number nine spot, Patrick Bamford, remaining injured yet he still has a lot to prove despite topping the goal charts with seven this season. Netting against Spurs, if nothing else, would be the ideal way to show Luis Enrique he made a mistake in not including him in his Spain World Cup squad.
Predicted starting XI in full – Meslier, Kristensen, Koch, Cooper, Struijk, Adams, Roca, Summerville, Aaronson, Gnonto, Rodrigo