Pascal Struijk (£3.9m) replaces an injured Liam Cooper (£4.4m) at the heart of Leeds United’s defence in an otherwise unchanged line-up from the side that lost 6-2 to Manchester United.
They face Burnley just two days before the festive chaos takes them to West Bromwich Albion, yet head coach Marcelo Bielsa has decided not to rotate popular FPL assets such as Patrick Bamford (£6.4m), Stuart Dallas (£4.7m), Mateusz Klich (£5.5m) and Raphinha (£5.4m).
Captain Cooper left proceedings at Old Trafford with an abdominal injury to worsen the defensive crisis that has seen Robin Koch (£4.4m) ruled out until March and Diego Llorente (£4.4m) suffer muscular problems, therefore moving Luke Ayling (£4.5m) into centre-back and restricting his attacking potential. Instead, Dallas has surged forward to score in their last two matches.
The Whites play an entertaining style of rock and roll football that has brought at least five goals in six of their 14 league matches this season. Only Liverpool have been involved in more goals than their 54, also ranking second to the champions for both goal attempts and xG (expected goals).
They have more shots inside the box than all others, yet defensively they are third worst for shots conceded and their xGC (expected goals conceded) is only ahead of West Brom.
Such statistics are encouraging for Bamford’s owners, as they suggest his fantastic return of nine goals and three assists is not a purple patch. The standout cheap striker, his 47 shots in the box is a league high. Bamford will face his former club, having made six appearances for Burnley during the 2016-17 season.
However, opposing him is Charlie Taylor (£4.5m), a man who started his career at Leeds and played 93 times at left-back before moving to Turf Moor. On many FPL managers’ radars right now after four clean sheets from seven matches, Taylor assisted Ashley Barnes’ (£6.0m) goal against Wolves last Monday.
Manager Sean Dyche has also resisted Christmas rotation, despite also having just one full day of rest before hosting Sheffield United. Their only changes from the 2-1 win over Wolves remove two players that received knocks that night – Dwight McNeil (£5.7m) and Robbie Brady (£5.0m). In their place comes Josh Benson (£4.5m) and the out-of-position Erik Pieters (£4.3m).
Burnley are unbeaten in four matches, picking up momentum as they attempt to escape a relegation fight. Underlying stats are still poor, with the fewest goal attempts in the league (117), fewest on target (36) and third fewest set piece attempts. They rely on Nick Pope (£5.4m) and Chris Wood (£6.2m) to step up and haul them up the table.
Leeds United XI: Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Struijk, Alioski; Phillips, Klich; Raphinha, Rodrigo, Harrison; Bamford
Burnley XI: Pope; Lowton, Tarkowski, Mee, Taylor; Westwood, Brownhill, Pieters, Benson; Wood, Barnes
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