Leeds United have been forced to play with a makeshift defence for numerous months now in the Premier League.
Luke Ayling has had to play centrally, with Stuart Dallas and Ezgjan Alioski playing at full-back at either side at Elland Road.
Despite having Diego Llorente back available, Marcelo Bielsa decided to stick with his makeshift back-four – something that was a huge mistake.
Alioski has become an ever-present figure, but this has to change.
The 28-year-old once again highlighted huge defensive fragilities in his game in the 1-0 defeat against Brighton.
Looking at this first example, Alioski is marking Leandro Trossard but only a couple of passes later – he has lost his man and the Belgian winger hits the bar.
The defensive stats back that up.
Alioski has only won 56.5% of his defensive duels according to WyScout and loses the ball over 12 times on average per 90 minutes.
The 28-year-old also struggles in his aerial battles, a real achilles heel of the Whites. The Macedonian only wins 34.6% of his duels in the air.
Both Ayling and Dallas are very effective on the ball and pushing forward, but Alioski’s final delivery leaves far too much to be desired.
When Leeds were pushing against the Seagulls, Alioski nearly threw it all away by inexplicably giving possession away to Neal Maupay.
Looking at the incident, it was clear that the ball should have gone straight to Liam Cooper.
Instead, Alioski panicked and ended up tripping over his own feet and handing the ball to Maupay in a very-dangerous area.
This was the final straw.
With Llorente back fully fit and a week until that trip to St James’ Park, Bielsa has to make changes to his defence against Newcastle.
Alioski is the man who has to be axed, allowing both Dallas and Ayling to return to the positions where they have been so effective already this season.
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