Jack Harrison needs to be dropped by Marcelo Bielsa as Leeds United winger woes continue
We’ve seen signs that the tide is changing in recent weeks at Leeds United with Marcelo Bielsa’s men showing they are way too good to be in a Premier League relegation battle.
While the Whites remain 15th in the standings and just three points clear of the drop zone with 11 matches played, performances suggest that this is a team more than capable of another mid-table, or even top-half, finish.
Bielsa’s small squad has been rocked by injuries, COVID and ridiculous international fixture schedules yet despite the punches, the Yorkshire giants have preserved and that 1-1 draw with Leicester on Sunday was arguably their best performance in the early stages of the 2021/22 edition of the Premier League.
However, some of us may look at that game and view it as two points dropped because Leeds were clearly the better side.
Stats by BBC Sport show Leeds had 56 per cent of possession and had 18 shots at goal compared to Leicester’s nine. Leeds hit the target five times and Leicester did on three occasions.
It paints a picture that Leeds were on the ball more, created more opportunities and, really, should have won. The Whites even bossed the expected goals stat [The xG Philosophy].
You can guarantee that a large part of that xG stat was down to Jack Harrison’s miss in the second half when the 24-year-old winger blazed an effort over the bar at a corner kick.
Harrison was unmarked at the back post with what was almost an open goal in front of him yet the former Manchester City winger managed to knee the ball into orbit.
And you have to wonder, if someone else was in the situation Harrison was in, would they have scored?
Harrison’s form this season has dipped massively and we’re starting to see the winger who struggled in his debut loan campaign at Elland Road.
Not many players spent three seasons on loan at a club before signing permanently but Harrison did and in each season that went by, he got better.
However, since his £13million permanent move to Elland Road was wrapped up in the summer, we’re yet to see the Stoke-born attacker, who was being touted for an England call-up last season, impress.
In nine Premier League appearances as a full-time Leeds player, Harrison hasn’t registered a goal or an assist. Stats by FBRef show he’s expected to have scored 0.8 times for Leeds this season and 0.7 assists.
It’s not great for a settled winger in an attack-minded team.
Raphinha is carrying this Leeds team when it comes to goals yet Harrison is lagging behind, killing attacks by running the ball into defenders, whipping aimless crosses into the box and missing gilt-edged chances like the one against Leicester.
Harrison may well be carrying a rib injury but there’s no excuse for that miss on Sunday – it was one of a player who’s down on his form and low in confidence and luck.
Leeds play away at Tottenham in their first game back after the international break and the suggestions are that Patrick Bamford could be available for that game mean that someone will need to make way for the England striker [injury expert Ben Dinnery].
Who does Bielsa drop to accommodate Bamford?
Rodrigo and Daniel James are getting better and better and Raphinha is the first name on the teamsheet, which leaves Harrison, unfortunately for him, the most likely casualty.
Having a spell out of the team could do wonders for the struggling winger.
We’ve been massive fans of his in the last few years and we hate to see the big-money Leeds United ace failing to perform as well as we know he can.
But if Bamford’s back, dropping Harrison is a no-brainer.
In other Leeds United news, this “fearless” Under-23s ace is the talk of the town at Thorp Arch.