Leeds United didn’t miss Jack Harrison against Manchester City but he should be thrust straight back into the starting XI in Monday’s clash with Liverpool.
Harrison, 24, was ineligible to face his parent club at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday but the Whites pushed past his absence to claim a shock 2-1 victory over the Premier League leaders.
Helder Costa was the player tasked with filling the considerably large void left by Harrison and he stuck to his task admirably.
Leeds are famed for their swashbuckling style of football under Marcelo Bielsa but Saturday’s win required different tactics, particularly after Liam Cooper was sent off just before the interval.
Stuart Dallas scored the opener but it was pretty much backs to the walls as Pep Guardiola’s side piled on incessant pressure to force an equaliser.
Leeds held firm for the majority of the match and Costa was a big part of that. His tally of eight defensive duels was his second-highest of the Premier League campaign and most since the reverse fixture on October 3. [Wyscout]
His commitment to the cause was summed up in the three fouls he made, a score none of his teammates topped.
However when in possession he was wasteful with the ball, completing just one forward pass from five attempts (50%) which ranks as his worst score of the season as a starter.
The 27-year-old deserves his props for a steely display but that should not be enough for him to maintain his place in the starting line-up versus Liverpool.
To say Costa has flattered to deceive at times this season is an understatement, and ex-Whites striker Noel Whelan told BBC West Yorkshire Sport [23/02/21] that he was “infuriating” to watch.
He laid on an assist in our first game of the season against Liverpool (September 12) before hitting a double in a 4-3 win over Fulham the following week, but they were his last goal contributions until February 14, when he scored a consolation goal in the 4-2 loss at Arsenal.
Harrison, meanwhile, has been a consistent source of goals and his tally of seven goals is beaten only by Patrick Bamford in the Leeds squad, while his previous outing saw him net the opener in our Yorkshire Derby victory over Sheffield United.
The upcoming clash with Liverpool should be a lot different to Saturday and so that game should count for little when Marcelo Bielsa names his side to play the current Premier League holders at Elland Road.
Much has been made of the defensive deficiencies of their right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold and therefore we should be targeting this area with our most consistent left-winger in the squad and that is Harrison, not Costa.
In other Leeds United news, big blow for Whites fans after Athletic journalist posts injury update that rules three stars out v Liverpool.