Jack Harrison set to mis Manchester City clash
04 Apr 2021 06:18 pm, by YorkshireSquare
Jack Harrison may have played 121 games for Leeds United over the past three seasons, but he is still technically a Manchester City player. Unfortunately as on loan players are forbidden to play against their parent club in the Premier League, this means Harrison will miss this Saturday’s game at the Etihad Stadium against City. Despite a recent dip in form, Harrison has hit back with two assists and a goal in the last two games. With seven goals this season, Harrison is now Leeds second top scorer and has notched up more Premier League goals than the likes of Sadio Mané, Gabriel Jesus, and Richarlison. With five assists he also ranks above James Rodríguez, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden. There is no doubt Harrison will be missed on Saturday, the big question for Marcelo Bielsa is who will replace him?
The obvious choice is Helder Costa who started the season on the right wing and has deputised for Harrison in recent weeks. Costa has failed to live up to his £15 million price tag but has chipped in with two goals and three assists in nineteen games this season, his goals coming against Fulham and Arsenal. Although Costa can play on the left, Bielsa has favoured him on the right wing meaning Raphinha could switch to the left-hand side. A move that would not be popular with Leeds fans as the enigmatic Brazilian has been much more effective on the right-hand side of the pitch, cutting in, leaving defenders trailing in his wake.
The solution to this conundrum could be to play Gjanni Alioski at left wing. The Macedonian started on the left wing for the previous match against City at Elland Road back in October but has been filling in at left back more recently. Whilst his defensive qualities have been questioned, Alioski has looked more comfortable going forward with three goals in all competitions so far this season. Whilst this move would ensure Raphinha remained on the right wing it would be dependent on Mateusz Klich being fit enough to start in the centre of midfield, allowing the versatile Stuart Dallas to return to his more usual left back position.
If Bielsa wanted to go for a more youthful option he could turn to Ian Poveda or Crysencio Summerville. Whilst Poveda has shown moments of genuine quality he is yet to convert his promise into goal contributions in his ten first team outings this season. He has however scored once and claimed three assists for the U23s this season. Summerville has not yet got a chance in the senior squad, despite playing in the Eredivisie last season, though he has had a fruitful season for the U23s with five goals and six assists in nine games. It’s a big ask throwing in the youngsters against the Champions elect but it would be nice to see them both getting some minutes before the end of the season.
Bielsa could turn to the experience of Pablo Hernández. The former winger played the majority of his career out wide, regularly featuring on the right wing in Bielsa’s first season. But the Spaniard is seemingly out of favour at Elland Road and has struggled with fitness. The demands required to play on the wing for a Bielsa side in the Premier League, especially against City may be too much for the 35 year-old. My sentimental side would love for Hernandez to get a run out against the top side in the league, particularly because it looks like this could be his final season at Elland Road. Bielsa doesn’t seem particularly sentimental when it comes to picking his side though, I’m fully expecting Costa to start on the right with Raphinha on the left.