The problem with Ezgjan ‘Gjanni’ Alioski is that he’s incredibly frustrating to watch. We’ve learned to accept many of his flaws because he does just enough to redeem himself. He has zero awareness of the offside rule, would rather take a 1:100 chance than square the ball to a better place teammate and will invariably do little more than win us some corners. But he also tracks back well, applies himself with maximum effort and – occasionally – score important goals.

But does he deserve to keep his place in the squad?

The most common rebuttal to that is “yes, he has the most assists”, which is false. He has 3 league assists – behind Pablo, Klich, Saiz and joint with Douglas. But Gjanni has played many more minutes than most of those players.

“But he scores goals”, which is true, he’s 4th for goals scored (with 3), but it’s not a contribution that can alone justify his place in the team.

His defensive contributions are undeniable, at least, having made the third most tackles at Leeds. But the harsh reality is that his performances have been poor for a number of games in a row now. His last assist came in the 1-1 draw with Brentford on the 6th of October. On September 22nd was his last goal, a consolation in our disappointing performance against Birmingham. His other contributions have been unimportant; an 89th minute assist in the 3-1 win at Stoke on the opening fixture, the 4th goal in our 4-1 win against Derby and our third goal in the 90th minute against Norwich.

I do like Alioski, but if I remove the emotion and look at the situation with objectivity it’s hard to justify how he’s keeping someone like Clarke out of the squad. A player who has hugely impressed me in the development squad and looked every bit as good as anyone in the first team when he’s been brought on as a substitute.

While their ratings may be debatable, WhoScored’s data does somewhat support my feeling that his performances have been poor of late. Where the opening games of the season had him rating 8.26, 7.00, 6.35 (very poor game at Swansea) and 8.03, his recent games have been a long way short.

Nottingham Forest – 6.55
Wigan – 6.68
West Brom – 6.26
Bristol – 6.08

The above represents the last month of football and it’s hard to defend those performances. Bristol especially where I thought he was incredibly poor in possession.

With the game against Reading looming tonight, they are struggling above the relegation spots and unable to buy a win, whereas we’re at home and should be winning. So I’d be giving Clarke a game to show what he can do with a lovely crowd behind him.

In my view – Alioski deserves to be dropped. He might be more effective as an impact-sub, but I’d like to substantiate this and we can’t do that without trying.

Am I wrong?

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