This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Leeds United host Blackburn Rovers this weekend, with Marcelo Bielsa’s side looking to close the gap on leaders West Brom, who they trail by only two points.
Ahead of the match Bielsa has a decision to make regarding his attacking options, with on-loan winger Helder Costa and Pablo Hernandez vying for a start.
So should Bielsa go for Costa or Hernandez at the weekend?
“Hernandez has to play, it’s as simple as that.
“Many see the classy Spaniard as the best player at the club and there’s no doubt that he is one of the best technical players in the league.
“As for Costa, things just aren’t happening for him right now and it’s quite strange as to why that’s the case. He has plenty of ability but he hasn’t been productive enough this season and doesn’t really merit a place in the XI on current form.
“So, it should be Hernandez in the team and Costa on the bench and the former Wolves man is a great option for Bielsa to call on if they need another threat against Rovers.”
“Hernandez has been a huge miss for Leeds during his absence from injury and the Whites have, at times, struggled to make the most of the amount of possession they have enjoyed in recent matches where they could not claim all three points. The attacking midfielder’s return should help Bielsa’s side improve their ability to break teams down.
“Bielsa tends to remain fairly loyal to most of his starting line-up from week to week, and after securing a 2-0 win against Queens Park Rangers last time out, he might not be too eager to make changes to the starting eleven, which means that Helder Costa could well keep his place ahead of Hernandez.
“Costa has added some extra dynamism to Leeds’ attack and the ability to commit defenders and make space for the Whites’ other forwards, but he has yet to really hit form in front of goal in terms of scoring goals and providing consistent assists from the wide positions.
“Hernandez would be useful in helping Leeds break down what is largely going to be a well organised and stubborn defence against Blackburn, which could make him a better option to start, but he will still be a very valuable option from the bench if Bielsa elects to start Costa instead.”
Should Hernandez get the nod over Coata against Hull City?
“If he’s fit, I think Bielsa should go with Hernandez here.
“Prior to his injury-enforced absence, the Spaniard had once again found himself playing a key role for Leeds going forward this season, so his ability and creativity could cause problems for what may be a makeshift Blackburn defence on Saturday.
“Indeed, when you look at Leeds’ results before and after Hernandez suffered that setback, it certainly seems as though Bielsa’s side are stronger with the 34-year-old in it than out of it.
“That does admittedly mean that Costa will likely be left frustrated this weekend, although given his performances in the absence of Hernandez, it doesn’t really feel like he has done enough to justify keeping his place ahead of the Spaniard, and if he does drop out, he surely has to use it as motivation to develop his game ahead a future return to the side.”