Next up, we have an important fixture at home to Leeds United and an opportunity to climb out of the bottom three going into the international break. Can we make amends for our narrow loss at Elland Road earlier this season?
Despite the recent collapse against Manchester City, I don’t think much can be taken from that game. They are one of the best teams in the world and for the first 45 minutes, we did more than hold our own. A side we should be aiming to take points from however is this week’s fixture with Leeds. United have had a good season considering they were a fellow promoted club and they find themselves 12th under the leadership of Marcelo Bielsa. Their style of football is very gung-ho, so you never know what you are going to get with them. I think they present us with a great opportunity to get points on the board, piling pressure on the huge clash at The Amex tomorrow night. As a club currently sitting mid table with no chance of achieving European football or being dragged into the relegation scrap, on paper they are the type of opponent you want to be facing at this stage of the season because in theory they should want it a lot less. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way but it’s a big match for us nonetheless.
In terms of the team, I would revert back to a 4-4-2 formation and make three changes, replacing Lemina, Cavaleiro and Loftus-Cheek with Maja, Mitro and Decordova-Reid. I would love to see Mitro and Maja play off each other up front and I think this game is ideal to try it. It is harsh to drop Lemina but I think Anguissa is better suited to this game.
Mitro, Maja and Decordova-Reid to get on the scoresheet. What a great boost that would be for our strikers and everyone associated with the club going into the international break!
PREDICTION: FULHAM 3-1 LEEDS UTD
PREFERRED LINE-UP: 4-4-2
HEAD TO HEAD
LEAGUE RECORD (OVERALL)
- GAMES PLAYED – 73
- FULHAM WINS – 29
- DRAWS – 16
- LEEDS WINS – 28
- GOALS SCORED – 99
- GOALS CONCEDED – 102
LEAGUE RECORD (HOME)
- GAMES PLAYED – 36
- FULHAM WINS – 19
- DRAWS – 6
- LEEDS WINS – 11
- GOALS SCORED – 62
- GOALS CONCEDED – 45
BIGGEST WINS AT CRAVEN COTTAGE
- FULHAM 5-0 LEEDS UTD (1959/60)
- FULHAM 0-5 LEEDS UTD (1967/68)
- FULHAM 3-0 LEEDS UTD (1922/23)
- FULHAM 0-3 LEEDS UTD (2014/15)
LAST 5 GAMES
- LEEDS UTD 4-3 FULHAM
- LEEDS UTD 3-0 FULHAM
- FULHAM 2-1 LEEDS UTD
- FULHAM 2-0 LEEDS UTD
- LEEDS UTD 0-0 FULHAM
- FULHAM – LWLDW
- LEEDS UTD – DLLWL
COLLINS JOHN’S VIEW
As a Fulham supporter, I have to say that this is the game of the season for me. Everything that we have worked so hard for, how brilliantly we have done to close the gap, all comes down to matches like this. Newcastle play Brighton on Saturday and this is a big opportunity for us to get out of the bottom three, but it equally has the power to completely deflate our confidence if we lose and Newcastle win.
We need to erase the second half against Man City from our minds. We know we are better than that and it’s been a long time since we were that sloppy in possession. We need to bounce back quickly as Leeds United will not give us a moments rest. They are like robots! A machine whose fitness levels are off the charts. So we can’t afford to be casual in possession, as they will keep pressing and force those same mistakes if we let them.
Scott will have the players fired up for this one. He’ll know the importance of this game and how easy it can be to become nervous when this type of match comes along. Suddenly we aren’t the underdogs anymore, people are believing in this Fulham team and the players have to go into this game with that same level of confidence.
It won’t be easy, it never is against Leeds, but our record at home against them is pretty good and I’ll be cheering the lads and praying for a win. Go on Fulham!
PREDICTION: FULHAM 2-1 LEEDS UTD
BATTLE TO WATCH
OLA AINA VS RAPHINHA
Raphinha is a 24-year-old Brazilian winger who joined Leeds in the summer from Stade Rennais. Since joining he has had an instant impact scoring and assisting five, attracting interest from some of the top 6 sides. His creativity and silky dribbling makes him tough for any defender to come up against and I think that responsibility will be going to Ola Aina. Despite a shaky start, the Nigerian international has become a dependable player in both full back positions, more recently being played at left back. If Scott opts to keep Tete and Aina out wide, Ola will be up against the Brazilian winger and will have a tough night balancing his defensive and attacking duties. If he gets that balance right, it could be the difference given how open matches that Leeds are involved in tend to be.
LAST TIME OUT
LEEDS UNITED 4-3 FULHAM (19/09/20)
It seems like a long time ago now but back in September, we lost 4-3 to Bielsa’s side in an epic at Elland Road. In a topsy-turvy encounter, we found ourselves 2-1 down at half time despite dominating the majority of the first half. Silly penalties were awarded in both boxes as two of the Championship’s promoted sides were still trying to iron out defensive frailties from their start to the new campaign.
In typical Leeds fashion, their energy shone through at the start of the second half and they raced into a 4-1 lead in the 57th minute. It felt like another humiliation for Fulham was on the cards, then suddenly we came alive. Decordova-Reid made an instant impact off the bench and bagged his first goal of the season which was rapidly followed up by a Mitro header to put us within one. Unfortunately we couldn’t find an equaliser and this result became the first ‘what if’ of the season and the last time Mitro scored a goal for the club…
PLAYERS IN COMMON
FULHAM APPEARANCES – 53
GOALS – 9
LEEDS UTD APPEARANCES – 48
GOALS – 14
Micky Adams, Rod Belfitt, Michael Brown, Danny Cadamarteri, Allan Clarke, Olivier Dacourt, David Healy, Geoff Horsfield, Jim Langley, Eddie Lewis, Andy Lonergan, Ross McCormack, Terry Phelan, Matt Smith, Maik Taylor, Tony Warner.