Ah, the FA Cup. A trophy with a rich history... yet diminishing in value.
Garry Monk will come into the game at Sutton knowing that, if Leeds win, there will be enough stock in the competition to desire further success. That success, though, can come at a steep price if it means playing critical members of his starting XI as we push for the top of the Championship table.
Just imagine this scenario: Chris Wood, injured during an FA Cup matchup. The game is likely lost, but the season is also dead.
That, reader, is the equivalent of an Armageddon for Leeds at this point. It is no secret that without Wood, Leeds are not nearly as dangerous, so will he see the field in a cup we’re not likely to win?
Luckily, Monk is aware that Sutton should be brought down with relative ease by a second-hand Leeds lineup. So who can we potentially see shining on the pitch today?
1. Pontus Jansson
This one should be pretty obvious: Lower league opposition, Premier League talent in Jansson.
Should he start, the man with the plan from Sweden should have no problems dictating the tempo from the back four against Sutton. A match like this will actually be beneficial for Jansson after his suspension as it should allow him to get a quality runout while not having the pressure of playing a flawless game.
Listen, no one wants our beloved Jansson to slip up and allow a goal as he shakes off his rust. But if there is a match to do it, it’s against Sutton.
But don’t think that means Jansson won't do everything in his power to keep the clean sheet. He is a man of passion and determination. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the score sheet. Look out for that “Magic” header.
2. Kalvin Phillips
This cup tie could be a good chance for Phillips to show Monk that he has the quality to break back into the starting XI for Leeds.
To do that, Phillips will have to dictate the midfield play against weaker opposition. Susceptible to lapses in concentration, he will really need to stay focused to make sure that he does not get needless yellow cards.
If he can keep his composure, Phillips can be brilliant and can even create chances from a deeper position. That is exactly what Monk will call on him to do against Sutton.
3. Souleymane Doukara
Finally, a goal from someone not named Wood.
After scoring (an absolute beauty of a goal) against Forest, Monk will be praying that Doukara can follow with another goal or assist in this match, should he get the start. The conversation must have been had where Monk told Doukara that this team needs goals from him.
If Doukara fails to make a clear attacking impact against Sutton, it would not bode well for his long term future. These are simply the matches where you expect quality to shine through.
Doukara, show us your good for it.
Fan footage of Souleymane Doukara goal for Leeds last night pic.twitter.com/bLI0IfD2u5— betclever (@bet_clever) January 26, 2017
Is this match a must win?
It wouldn’t hurt of course. Wins are always better than losses. Or are they?
Leeds are in a bit of an interesting situation. After the rude awakening against Barnsley, Monk is more aware than ever this team is mortal. Wins are not guaranteed.
Fans will also want to make sure that every resource needed to make a promotion push is used towards the Championship. Many clubs aren’t playing extra games in cup tournaments, are they in a better position as a result?
While FA Cup glory makes the mouth water, it’s a Premier League birth that really fills the stomach. We’ll likely see what takes priority today at Sutton. MOT.