Well that was fun, wasn’t it?
Last night Samuel Saiz had a little party that Leeds United fans were invited to attend. While Saiz made the bench, but did not see the pitch, against Bolton Wanderers, many fans were curious to see what all of the hype was about surrounding the signing of the Spaniard from CD Huesca out of the clutches of SD Eibar. And boy, did he make an impression.
Saiz scored his first goal in a true poacher’s fashion, lining up in the penalty box and pouncing on the ball as it came off the far post on Stuart Dallas’ wayward cross. The second and third goals, however, were wonderfully worked. Ronaldo Vieira played Saiz in beautifully on the second, and Saiz made no mistake driving the ball home, and Saiz played a good give-and-go with Vieira for his second goal, again collecting the ball at his feet and driving into the box and shooting directly on target, giving the young Port Vale keeper no chance. Saiz was even involved in the final goal of the match, as he stepped over the low cross from Gianni Alioski, drawing the defence away from Caleb Ekuban, giving his fellow debutant space and time to send the ball into the back of the net.
Pablo Hernández vs. Bolton:— Chris Taylor (@LUFCDATA) August 6, 2017
93 touches (most)
90% pass acc.
5 chances created (most)
So where does Leeds head coach Thomas Christiansen go from here? Saiz is a natural number 10, playing in behind the striker and using his pace and creativity to score goals. The problem is that the number 10 slot is currently occupied by one of the better players on the Leeds squad, Pablo Hernandez. Hernandez was one of the standout performers against Bolton, and the team would miss his ability on dead ball situations. Hernandez was an active part of the attack against Bolton, but he’s not really able to play on the wing or further back in midfield.
Saiz has spent time on the wing in his career, but with Kemar Roofe and Gianni Alioski performing well in those roles against Bolton, Christiansen will be hard pressed to remove one of them. Alioski also breathed life into the way Leeds played when he came onto the pitch against Port Vale, and was a driving force marauding down the right hand side of the pitch. Kemar Roofe played on the right wing against Bolton, and Alioski looked much more comfortable on the right wing against Port Vale than he did on the left against Bolton. Perhaps Roofe is dropped for Saiz?
Just got to the office after the match. Very positive again going forward. Saiz excellent, Alioski changed the match completely. #lufc— Mighty Whites Pod (@mightywhitespod) August 9, 2017
The final goal for the night, that Caleb Ekuban finished, is a great example of how Alioski and Saiz might combine on the pitch. While it was only thirty minutes, and only against Port Vale, the two of the them were dynamite together, suggesting that maybe Christiansen would consider dropping Hernandez for Saiz? It might be too early to suggest that Hernandez should be dropped for Saiz, but Saiz was not brought in to sit on the bench, and given the performance that Saiz had last night, he’s not going to be just played as a second half sub or in cup games very much longer.
Christiansen has a bit of a selection headache on his hands, and while it’s annoying, it’s a good problem to have. Samu Saiz might have just forced his coach’s hand and broke down the door holding him back from being in the starting XI against Preston on the weekend. Can he be as effective as he was last night on the wing, dropping Roofe to super-sub role, or will he line up at the number 10, sending Hernandez to the bench. Either way, Saiz looks to be an exciting addition to the Whites this season. MOT