£7m man and 17-y/o debut: Leeds United XI prediction for Daniel Farke’s Cardiff City opener – View
Leeds United kick off their Championship campaign tomorrow afternoon with a home clash against Cardiff City, incidentally their most recent opponents from the second tier.
The Whites are under new management and there is cause for cautious optimism at the moment with Daniel Farke in charge – a man with two Championship titles on his CV.
Plenty still needs to be done with Farke’s squad to consider it completely ready for a promotion battle, but he’s still inherited a strong side following relegation.
As we look ahead to the first meeting of the season, a home test against Cardiff City, we take a look at the lineup we expect Farke to field against the Bluebirds…
A 4-2-3-1 is what we expect from Farke, given we’ve seen it throughout his career and in pre-season, but it’s a side lacking balance and depth in key areas.
Despite the signing of Karl Darlow from Newcastle United, we expect Illan Meslier to start tomorrow, given his presence in the sides for pre-season – a theme that is likely to dictate selection decisions throughout the lineup.
Concussion protocols have stopped Cody Drameh from continuing his early impressive displays in the friendlies, meaning Luke Ayling is sure to get the nod at right-back, while Liam Cooper and Pascal Struijk are expected to start the game, having played frequently together in pre-season.
There could be a strong argument made for starting Charlie Cresswell, given it would add a right-footer to the centre-back pairing and ensure we can build out in a more balanced manner, but Farke seemed content to experiment with the two left-footers. More signings needed to address this issue.
In defensive midfield we will see two competitive debuts for Leeds in £7million signing Ethan Ampadu, and 17-year-old sensation Archie Gray, who has seemingly been around for years it feels.
Leeds need protection for the back four, and they have that and more with Ampadu’s arrival, one of the most shrewd bits of business in the Championship this season, and partnering him one of the most talented players in the division.
In attack is where things get really interesting for Leeds, with three extremely talented players for the EFL sure to start in one position or another – Crysencio Summerville, Willy Gnonto, and Luis Sinisterra.
If Leeds retain these three, and they stay fit throughout the season, they are already onto a winner with some of the most dangerous players in the league.
Up front, there are more issues for Daniel Farke with his three leading strikers all ruled out through injury, meaning that it’s either going to see Dan James or Joe Gelhardt likely get the nod, and we’ve decided Gelhardt might be the option, knowing he’s more versatile and fluid than James to drop deeper when required.