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Not so long ago Leeds United were talking about catching Newcastle and Brighton in the automatic promotion places. However, two defeats in a row away from home sees them looking over their shoulder somewhat.
Just 5 points separate them from 7th placed Fulham and, after the way the West London side dominated the game against Derby before losing 4-2, it could have been even closer. Not achieving a play-off place from this point would be a disaster for Leeds and Garry Monk is likely to make changes to freshen up his bruised and battered side for the challenge of facing a good Preston team this weekend.
Here we look at two big name players who may have to make way after two disappointing performances.
The on-loan Swansea centre-half has been a tower of strength for Leeds this season, but his last two performances have been way below the required standard. Liam Cooper, having been brought in against Brighton in the absence of Pontus Jansson, covered well for Bartley during the game against Albion. But against Reading, they were much more static as a pair.
Reading cut Leeds apart at the back on numerous occasions and Bartley appeared powerless to stop it. He kept his place for the trip to Brentford, back alongside Jansson, but the two did not communicate as well as they had done in the past. Rob Green got him out of trouble several times in the first half alone in what was a dreadful show.
It’s fair to say that in the Bartley-Cooper and Bartley-Jansson partnerships, all three players have been off colour; however the common denominator here is Bartley and it may be time that he is rested. Jansson and Cooper could presumably play together and may be partnered as centre-backs on Saturday.
Playing at home against deep sitting opposition is ideal for the Spaniard. His creativity is obvious but he does not like being hustled and harried and that is how the game at Reading panned out. Pace is not his strong point and so when the game is fast it rather passes him by.
That can be forgiven and considered as a one-off if he improves in the next game. But at Brentford, he struggled once again when up against an intense opposition and could not dictate the game like his usual self. That intensity will not drop when Preston, who won 5-0 in midweek, come to town at the weekend and it may well be necessary for Monk to take some action.