Nigel Martyn has exclusively told LeedsUnited.News that he believes Marcelo Bielsa will keep faith with Jack Harrison as The Whites go up against Southampton on Tuesday night – despite the improving form of Helder Costa, who has enjoyed two decent substitute appearances from the bench of late, against Arsenal and Wolves.
Costa, 27, started the season on the right flank with Harrison on the left – before Raphinha broke into the side. Raphinha’s excellent form has seen Costa drop onto the bench and even completely out of the matchday squad at times – failing to start a Premier League match since early November. But he has shown signs of improvement, in recent weeks.
Two goals and two assists in four Premier League 2 appearances has seen the former Wolves and Monaco man earn more of a go off the bench. In the last two outings, he has proved influential – scoring against Arsenal with an excellent first-time finish after brilliant work from Tyler Roberts on the left. Against his old team Wolves, he impressed during the 10 minutes he played.
Yes, he missed a big chance against Wolves in the final moments, but he made things happen. Harrison, meanwhile, has gone off the boil in the last two matches – being substituted at half-time against Arsenal and proving somewhat ineffective against Wolves, eventually being replaced by Costa. Martyn discussed whether Costa should come into the starting line-up for Harrison, but thinks Bielsa will keep faith with the Manchester City loanee.
“I like Harrison, he is a threat,” Martyn told LeedsUnited.News. “The manager will stick with him. Bielsa sees him ahead of Costa and continue to pick him and give him the first chance, but that is a change he can make if it isn’t happening. He does have an influence in games, or he has done – but it hasn’t happened for him in the last couple. Things haven’t worked for him, it is probably just a little spell. He has produced goals and assists throughout the season. Costa is pushing, and clearly wants to start. It is a good situation for the manager.”
It is a tricky clash for Leeds, against Southampton. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have been ravaged by injury and last won a Premier League match on January 4 – beating Liverpool. They then lost six consecutive Premier League games, but will have restored some confidence having drawn 1-1 with Chelsea on the weekend. Takumi Minamino scored for the Saints.
Leeds, meanwhile, have suffered defeats in their last two games and remain without Robin Koch, Kalvin Phillips, Ian Poveda and Rodrigo. Diego Llorente is in contention to feature, though he may have to wait for an opportunity as Liam Cooper and Pascal Struijk continue to combine well. Martyn previewed the match, and expects Leeds to play at full throttle once again – as well as giving his take on the defeat to Wolves.
“We didn’t deserve to lose to Wolves, but you take a lot from the performance. Seven times out of 10, you come out with a win – and you lose one in 10. Great strike but a freak goal. It sums up Leeds luck on Friday, but the goal deserved a strike. It was unlucky. The creation of chances was there, Bamford’s finish was great. The footballing gods weren’t smiling. I predict that Leeds will play the same way [against Southampton]. I predict that they will create chances, and it will be great to watch. It could be anything, we’ve watched and endured it. At times it has been amazing to watch, but it has also caused real problems.”