Fulham vs Leeds United
Venue: Craven Cottage
Referee: David Coote
TV: Sky Sports
Two of the newly promoted sides face off as Fulham welcome Leeds United to Craven Cottage. A win for the home side would see them leapfrog Newcastle and out of the relegation zone, whilst the visitors will be looking to continue their strong first season and spoil the party in the capital. Last time out, the two sides dished out a thrilling match, with Leeds coming out 4-3 victors. The neutrals will certainly be looking for similar excitement from this affair.
Fulham enter the tie off the back of a 3-0 loss to league leader Manchester City. Three goals in 13 minutes just after halftime saw the Cottagers remain in 18th, whilst relegation rivals Newcastle stole an injury-time equaliser at home to Aston Villa. An unrealistic fixture to expect any result from, Parker will have surely set his sights on Fulham’s remaining fixtures as the ones to secure enough points for survival.
Parker’s side seemed destined to return to the second tier earlier this season; however, a late turnaround has seen Fulham claw their way back into contention for survival. The London side have become much more resilient, losing only twice in their last eight, picking up three victories along the way. This form should be more than enough to secure survival if it continues; however, with their relegation rivals having two games in hand by the time the Leeds fixture is complete, Fulham still have a lot of work to ensure survival.
With the home side needing the greatest amount of points available from their remaining games, we could see an attacking setup from Parker this weekend. Josh Maja could return to the side following his absence against City, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Ademola Lookman supporting him in the attack. An attacking mindset could throw off the balance of a well-composed Leeds side, which is arguably the best way to beat Biels’a well-oiled football machine.
As for Leeds, they travel to Craven Cottage at a time where their season is winding down insignificance. Surely securing Premier League survival, the Whites will have achieved their main goal for the season, and with Europe just out of sight, Bielsa’s side has much less to play for. Historically prone to a late-season capitulation, Bielsa will surely fire up his side to not get complacent during the final games of the season. A trip to Craven Cottage presents an excellent opportunity for Bielsa’s men to continue their impressive first season in the Premier League.
The Whites travel to Craven Cottage off the back of a goalless draw the high flying Chelsea. With the form Chelsea have been in, this was undoubtedly an impressive result for Leeds and may put them in good stead to improve their shaky form of late. The Whites have lost four of their last six, bringing their total losses to 14 for the season, higher than their opponents this weekend, who have lost 13. Leeds, however, sit comfortably in 12th following 11 wins this season, a similar tally to the likes of Arsenal and Aston Villa above them.
Bielsa’s side will be boosted by the fact that Patrick Bamford will return for the Fulham game. Leeds’ poor finishing has possibly lost them some games of late, and with England hopeful back to lead the line, the Yorkshire side may press on and see out the season in good form. Jack Harrison and the ever-impressive Raphinha would accompany Bamford up top, which could certainly give Fulham a headache if they choose to play with an attacking mindset.
Parker is still without Marek Rodak and Tom Cairney for the Leeds clash. Bobby Decordova-Reid could be available after missing Fulham’s last game.
Pablo Hernandez, Adam Forshaw and Leif Davis all miss out. Liam Cooper is unavailable through illness, and Rodrigo may miss the tie following a muscular issue picked up in training. Patrick Bamford will be fit to start.
Predicted Starting XIs
Fulham (4-3-3): Areola; Tete, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Aina; Reid, Lemina, Reed; Lookman, Loftus-Cheek, Maja
Leeds (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Llorente, Struijk, Dallas; Phillips; Klich, Roberts, Harrison, Raphinha; Bamford
Predicted Score: Fulham 1-2 Leeds United
With the need to secure as many points towards Premier League survival as possible, Fulham have to play for the win this weekend. With the worst home form in the league, Leeds should take advantage of this and pick up all three points.