Leeds United manager Daniel Farke has a selection conundrum ahead of Wednesday night’s FA Cup fifth round tie at Chelsea. Or does he?

The Whites’ trip to Stamford Bridge reignites the old debate about the impact of extended Cup runs on a club’s promotion campaign and how best to deploy playing resources in pursuit of competing priorities.

Are Cup games really an unwanted distraction for sides chasing promotion to the Premier League?

The priorities

Without question, Leeds United’s main priority this season is to secure promotion back to the Premier League, and they are perfectly placed to achieve that goal.

It’s fair to assume that Farke will not unnecessarily jeopardise the club’s promotion challenge in pursuit of a fleeting FA Cup thrill. The team selected for the Stamford Bridge battle should, therefore, reflect the club’s hierarchy of priorities.

It would be perfectly understandable if the manager of a side involved in a tight promotion battle treated the FA Cup tie as a distraction and kept his key personnel in reserve for bigger and more important battles ahead.

Farke will pick his side for the Chelsea trip with one eye not only on Saturday’s Championship trip to local rivals Huddersfield Town, but also on the season’s priorities as a whole.

We can expect a much-changed line-up from the team that beat Leicester City 3-1 last time out, with the manager utilising the full depth of his squad and giving rare opportunities to fringe players.

Momentum is the word

Leeds United are yet to lose a match this calendar year. Extending their 12-match unbeaten run would do wonders for the confidence of the squad and stand the Whites in good stead for the promotion run-in.

So, Farke might just surprise us and take the view that Leeds United’s promotion campaign could benefit from an extended Cup run. That objective would be best served by selection continuity and approaching the Chelsea tie like any other.

To that end, the strongest Leeds United side would be selected in the hope that they will transpose their Championship form on the FA Cup stage and keep the winning momentum going.

Farke will also be wary of a Cup setback spilling over and affecting his side’s league form.

Chelsea backlash?

Leeds United face a  Chelsea side still smarting from Sunday’s excruciating Carabao Cup final defeat to Liverpool. Mauricio Pochettino’s men will be desperate to make amends, with this FA Cup tie the earliest available opportunity.

Leeds United won’t want to be the team the Blues take out their frustrations on. So any suggestions that Farke’s men will go to Stamford Bridge to roll over and play dead are woefully off the mark.

In all likelihood, it will be a much-changed Leeds United side, but one determined to make a real fist of the contest.


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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