Marcelo Bielsa’s high-flying Leeds United currently sit at the top of the perch after 5 Championship fixtures, but they face arguably their toughest test of the season this evening as 2nd place Middlesbrough arrive at Elland Road for a mouthwatering encounter.
Bielsa’s arrival at Leeds has changed the dynamic of the entire division and given the Whites faithful genuine belief that they can mount a promotion charge this season. But it’s the fixtures against the sides also competing for promotion which shape the race to finish inside the top-6 and Bielsa will be firmly aware of that as he prepares his side for their biggest game of the season so far.
Ahead of the Friday night fixture the Yorkshire Evening Post spoke to Mark Donnelly from the Hartlepool Mail to give the readers an idea of what to expect from Middlesbrough, and he delivered an interesting verdict on Ryan Shotton.
Indeed, Donnelly singled out Shotton as a notable weak link that Leeds should be looking to exploit.
Playing in an unfamiliar right-wing back role Donnelly actually admitted that Shotton has ‘looked fairly solid this season, but questions could be asked’.
With that in mind, there’s no doubt that the onus is on Ezjan Alioski (valued at £3.6 million by Transfermarkt) to continue to build on his impressive start to the season and look to unsettle Shotton from the very first minute.
On the left-side of Leeds’ midfield Alioski has scored 2 goals and provided 2 assists already this season, and with Shotton playing in a new role he should fancy his chances of making a decisive impact this evening.
It remains to be seen whether Donnelly’s admission will turn prophetic, but either way it’s certainly an indicator that Alioski could be the man to single-handedly make the difference between the two sides and send Leeds 6 points clear of 3rd place Bolton Wanderers ahead of the weekend fixtures.
Leeds fans – thoughts? Let us know below!