Leeds United return to Premier League action today as they once again play host, this time welcoming high-flying Brighton and Hove Albion to Elland Road.
The Seagulls come to Yorkshire in scintillating form, with Roberto De Zerbi having overseen just one loss in 2023 in all competitions.
Meanwhile, Javi Gracia still has the unenviable task of revitalising a toothless side who have just one goal in their last five games played.
Defensive solidity will likely be the Spaniard’s best port of call for grinding out a result against the well-oiled machine that visits them today, and by quelling their biggest threats they can improve their odds of claiming an important result.
The first issue they must deal with is Kaoru Mitoma, who has starred this campaign. His pace and trickery might prove too much for Luke Ayling, but the steely Rasmus Kristensen could well rise to the challenge posed.
Will Rasmus Kristensen start for Leeds vs Brighton?
Having clearly been signed as per Jesse Marsch’s orders, the Danish full-back now finds himself without his former boss to oversee his development. The 25-year-old must force his way back into the side on merit, and has only made one appearance in their last nine league games.
His presence remains felt throughout the club even on the bench, as former manager Matthias Jaissle once dubbed the steely ace as a “leader”.
However, before his removal from the starting side, the £40k-per-week titan had shown the defensive qualities that suggest he could keep certainly the Japanese star quiet.
The biggest issue the Brighton man brings is his natural talent to waltz past defenders, outlined in his impressive 60% dribble success rate.
This is somewhat countered by the 2.7 tackles the defender averages per game, whilst evening the odds with his 58% duels won this season, via Sofascore.
Not only that, but last season Kristensen proved his penchant for pushing forward too. Even journalist Josh Bunting noted how he looked forward to watching him:
“Rasmus Kristensen is an extremely physical player, he’ll fit into the Premier League, so powerful driving forward from full-back”.
Whilst he is yet to showcase that in England, his seven goals, three assists and 1.2 key passes per 90, via Sofascore, are indicative of a threatening presence that will have Mitoma also thinking about his role in quelling that threat.
Whilst it may seem a tall order to topple the visitors, the physicality and unrelenting work rate of the former RB Salzburg general could prove imperative in unsettling their rhythm with the backing of a raucous Elland Road crowd.
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