With the visitors to Elland Road having been in decidedly better form this autumn – Mikel Arteta’s side currently top the Premier League table – in truth, three points would not look overly likely for the Whites this weekend.
Indeed, with Marsch revealing in his pre-match press conference that Patrick Bamford is still working his way back to 100% fitness, it remains unclear as to whether the 29-year-old will be selected from the off against the Gunners today.
However, considering just how impressive Joe Gelhardt has been for the under-21s in recent weeks, it would seem as if the Leeds manager could well find a ready-made Bamford replacement in the 20-year-old striker.
Indeed, while Gelhardt is no stranger to the Whites’ first team, having already made 29 appearances for the senior side since his 2020 move to LS11, only six of these have come as Premier League starts.
It is true that underage football is a much lower standard than that of the top flight, but taking into account the England under-21 international’s recent displays for Michael Skubala’s side, the £8.7m-rated talent would appear to be well worth a shot from the outset this afternoon.
In the youth team’s 5-3 Papa John’s Trophy victory over Tranmere Rovers earlier this month, Gelhardt played a starring role, scoring two goals, getting three shots on target, making two key passes, completing one dribble and drawing four fouls. These returns saw the 20-year-old earn a game-topping SofaScore match rating of 8.4.
Following that performance, Leeds Live journalist Joe Donnohue – who awarded the striker a nine in his own player ratings – had considerable praise for the youngster, stating on Twitter: “Two very well-taken goals – power and placement. Worked hard off the ball from start to finish. Like Gnonto, uses his body so well to his advantage.”
Furthermore, despite not finding the net in his next outing for the under-21s – a 1-0 win over Sunderland in Premier League 2 this week – the £16.5k-per-week hitman was once again awarded an impressive eight in Donnohue’s player ratings.
The journalist added of the starlet’s display: “Superb work rate for the full 90. On more than one occasion he was back defending SAFC counters. Competed physically & adhered to the tactics.”
Considering just how impressive the player who Marcelo Bielsa claimed “always creates danger” has been for the under-21s, coupled with Bamford clearly not being back to full fitness just yet, Marsch simply must unleash the 20-year-old against Arsenal. The wonderkid undoubtedly has the ability to help fire Leeds to a much-needed three points against the Gunners.