Leeds United continued their poor form in the Premier League this year as they were beaten 1-0 by Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Sunday.
Jesse Marsch’s last win in the top-flight came at the start of November, before the 2022 World Cup, in a 4-3 win over Bournemouth and this latest loss means that his side are only ahead of the bottom three on goal difference.
The Whites are firmly in a relegation scrap and Brennan Johnson’s early screamer to secure all three points for Steve Cooper’s side this weekend did them no favours.
Pascal Struijk’s weak, headed, clearance fell to the feet of the winger and allowed the forward to rifle a terrific volley into the bottom corner – giving Illan Meslier no chance.
Marsch made a few big calls with his team selection, including leaving new signings Georginio Rutter and Weston McKennie on the bench, and one of them was the choice to go with the experienced Luke Ayling at right-back over Rasmus Kristensen.
The Danish defender put in a decent display against Accrington Stanley, recording a Sofascore rating of 7.00, in the FA Cup last weekend and enjoyed a solid start to the Premier League campaign – starting 13 matches and averaging a rating of 6.91.
Kristensen has made 4.3 tackles and interceptions per match and won 59% of his duels, whilst losing possession 15 times per game, in the division this term, which shows that the full-back has been a solid operator at the back.
Ayling, who has comparatively averaged a dismal rating of 6.61 in the top flight, was selected ahead of the Dane and let Marsch down having put in a poor display at the back.
As per Sofascore, the Englishman only completed 52% of his attempted passes and gifted possession back to Nottingham Forest a whopping 27 times, whilst also failing in two of his three attempted dribbles over the course of the 90 minutes.
It indicates that the 31-year-old was a huge liability on the ball as he consistently let his team down by failing to find a teammate.
The veteran was also unable to make a single clearance, tackle, or interception, whilst being dribbled past twice, and losing eight of his 12 (66%) individual battles, which shows that Ayling did not make up for his play in possession by being a solid defender at the back.
Therefore, the right-back let Marsch down badly with the statistics suggesting that the former Yeovil man should not have been selected ahead of Kristensen, whose performances have been significantly better than the one Ayling produced on Sunday.