Leeds United are set to host Middlesbrough at Elland Road this evening in a fixture which sees two unbeaten sides go head-to-head in the biggest game of the Championship season so far.
It’s a clash of the two early pace setters and two vastly contrasting footballing philosophies with Marcelo Bielsa and Tony Pulis facing up in a battle of wits: attack vs defence, expansive vs restrictive, free-flowing vs rigid.
Whichever way you look at it there is no denying this is a huge game for both sides despite the fact it’s early days in the race for promotion. Ahead of the fixture both managers will have huge decisions to makes regarding team selection, particularly Bielsa who looks set to have Liam Cooper back available for selection after injury.
Captain Cooper has been sidelined since he suffered an injury during the pre-match warm-up as Leeds prepared to face Swansea almost two weeks ago, but whether he is ready to face a full 90 minutes of action remains to be seen.
Ahead of the fixture the highly-respected journalist Phil Hay published a tweet suggesting Bielsa will need to make a decision on Cooper’s fitness and whether he is ready to return to the starting lineup in place of Pontus Jansson.
It’s too early for crucial fixtures and all that but this is right game tonight. If Cooper is 100% ready, a big call to be made between him and Jansson. Can’t see Bielsa dropping Berardi. #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) August 31, 2018
Jansson, 27, completed the full 90 minutes during Leeds’ commanding 3-0 victory over Norwich City last weekend and it seems his promising performance has convinced the majority of the fan base that he should keep his place tonight.
Standing at almost 6ft 4in Jansson’s height could prove to be a valuable asset against a Boro side who are renowned for their threat from set-pieces.
The Leeds supporters certainly seem to think so as they have flocked in their numbers to call for Bielsa to stick with Jansson and allow Cooper further time to recover from his injury problem.
It’s a huge decision for Bielsa to make considering Cooper is Leeds’ captain, but Jansson’s performance against Norwich combined with his aerial presence have persuaded the supporters that he deserves to start once again tonight.
Here’s what the fans have had to say on Twitter…
You can't say "Coops" without saying "Oops!" It's a no brainer, Jannson
— Harvey Browne (@HarveyBrowne1) August 31, 2018
It is a big call, because one of our weaknesses is lack of height, against boro and the way they play, set pieces etc will be vital. If we impose our game we’ll get a result. #lufc
— Simon (@tuffsy13) August 31, 2018
Jansson is better by a mile than cooper!
— Joe Kelly (@joekelly7731) August 31, 2018
Keep Jansson, don’t risk coops!
— Chris Angus (@anguish101) August 31, 2018
Pontus all day long!! #lufc
— Liam Wharin (@LeedsUtdLAW) August 31, 2018
Tough call but for me I would leave PJ in the side Cooper on the bench!!!
— Blayne Scroggins (@BlayneScroggins) August 31, 2018
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Why risk Cooper though? Let him have the extra weeks to recover.
— Proposition Joe (@TheNfster) August 31, 2018