Leeds Utd v Everton Match Thread - Phillips and Firpo in, Koch and Rodrigo out
18 Aug 2021 07:31 pm, by Ellandback1
Saturday 21st August 15:00 | Elland Road
A jam packed Elland Road will be home to Leeds opening game of the season against Everton on Saturday afternoon. The Whites will want to forget the mauling they received at Old Trafford last weekend, and are boosted by the return of Kalvin Phillips. The inspirational England midfielder was benched against the Reds as Bielsa decided the 25 year old was not in peak condition following his late return from international duty. Junior Firpo is set to make his Elland Road league debut following his £13m transfer from Barcelona but Diego Llorente is still sidelined with a thigh injury. He is responding well to treatment and could be back in contention in a fortnights time.
We know that Bielsa does not like to rotate his starting line up but with Phillips and Firpo back in contention he will stick with the central defensive partnership of Cooper and Strujik. Bielsa usually favours a right foot/left foot combination and young Strujik did look uncomfortable playing on the right hand side of the defence but he will retain his place ahead of German International Robin Koch. Firpo starting means Stuart Dallas is free to return to midfield alongside Klich in the middle of midfield. Rodrigo is dropped to the bench.
Everton will be full of confidence having comfortably beating Southampton last weekend. Manager Rafael Benitez is unlikely to tinker too much with the starting line up, he will still be without Jean-Philippe Gbamin, Ben Godfrey, Andre Gomes and James Rodriguez. Though forward Moise Kean is available again, having missed the win over Southampton because of covid-related reasons. Everton are aiming to remain unbeaten in their opening two Premier League matches for the 10th successive season. They last lost their season-opening away league fixture in 2010-11, when beaten at Blackburn Rovers.
Both league meetings were won by the away team last season. The away side had won just one of the previous 27 top-flight matches between the teams. After 36 league visits to Elland Road without a victory, Everton have won two of their past three away games at Leeds. Leeds' only defeat in their past 16 opening home matches of a top-flight season came against Sheffield Wednesday in 1996-97. They haven't lost their first two games of a top-flight campaign since 1980-81. Raphinha could become just the second Leeds player to score in three consecutive appearances against Everton in all competitions. Peter Lorimer did it between November 1975 and January 1978.