The wait is almost over, as Leeds United’s 2021-22 Premier League campaign kicks off on Saturday lunchtime.
The lunchtime trip to Old Trafford has been circled in fans’ diaries since the moment the fixtures dropped earlier this summer and is perhaps the standout fixture of the top flight’s opening weekend.
Marcelo Bielsa faced the press on Thursday lunchtime, ruling Diego Llorente out of the trip across the Pennines after the defender limped out of the pre-season friendly defeat to Real Betis.
That leaves a question at the back, while there is also a doubt over how much Kalvin Phillips will be involved, following his extended Euro 2020 tilt with England.
So how should Leeds line-up for the season opener? Our LeedsLive reporters have drawn up their line-ups here…
Marcelo Bielsa’s good news on Junior Firpo has certainly made this a lot easier than I expected.
My standards for the level of fitness needed going into a new season are nowhere near the level Bielsa demands, so Firpo’s fit enough to start for me.
The major upside to Firpo starting is the freedom to then start Stuart Dallas in the middle of the park where he has excelled.
There was more challenging news on Diego Llorente from Bielsa, which means it’s a toss-up between Robin Koch and Pascal Struijk.
Liam Cooper does bring a lot to the side as a leader and organiser on the pitch, so he starts and it’s Koch alongside him, largely for his right foot.
I would have Koch back there because Kalvin Phillips starts for me in his customary role too. He may have had a limited pre-season, but he historically retains his fitness very well and should be more than strong enough to start on Saturday.
The rest of the side picks itself based. There has been some debate around Rodrigo’s starting spot, but with the way he finished last season I feel he has to be in there. He is just that level above Mateusz Klich or Tyler Roberts in the final third.
Beren’s XI: Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Cooper, Firpo; Phillips; Raphinha, Dallas, Rodrigo, Harrison; Bamford.
Marcelo Bielsa told the Leeds United press corp on Thursday afternoon it would be ‘one or two weeks more’ until Diego Llorente is fit to return to first-team action.
However, the Argentine did have positive news on Jamie Shackleton and Junior Firpo who have overcome slight knocks to be back in contention for this weekend.
The one player most Leeds United fans want to see start at Old Trafford will be Kalvin Phillips, but with just 90 minutes of pre-season action under his belt and half the time to prepare compared to his teammates, his selection hangs in the balance.
Robin Koch could well prove to be Bielsa’s stand-in if Phillips is not deemed ready to face 90 minutes running the gauntlet at Man United.
Joe’s XI: Meslier; Ayling, Cooper, Struijk, Junior; Koch; Raphinha, Dallas, Rodrigo, Harrison; Bamford
Now it’s your turn to have your say on how you think Leeds United should line up at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.
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