Who’s ready to burn it all down? Most of us. A terrible 3-0 defeat at Queens Park Rangers started the season off well, and the roller coaster win in the EFL Cup was quickly forgotten after Saturday’s poor second half against Birmingham City, but at least we get to try to reset again quickly with a Tuesday night match against Fulham FC.
Fulham on the other hand has started off red hot, with three wins to start their season. They topped promotion-favorites Newcastle United in their opener, then won 3-2 against Leyton Orient in the EFL Cup, and then won again Saturday 2-1 at Preston North End. They’re where we’d like to be: tied for top with six points.
And so now they visit Elland Road. We need the points, they’re more likely to earn them. How do you think they feel about their visit? Today we have another Leeds Against The World for you, with Andrew Beck of SB Nation blog Cottagers Confidential joining us again this season to give us a little insight into Fulham fandom. We’re happy to have him back.
So as we did last week, we hope you find it a worthwhile exercise to see things from the other side before a match, even if he’s a bit more optimistic than any of us going into tomorrow night. Meet Fulham through the eyes of Andrew and get ready for Saturday’s match with us.
Leeds Against The World: Fulham FC
Hey Andrew, thanks for joining us again. You finished 20th in the Championship last season, changes had to be made. How did Fulham change over the summer?
In both of our first two matches, we've only started four players who were on the squad at the end of last year, and one of those was brought in the winter window. There was a pretty big clean out of players. Scott Parker is really the only player left on the squad who saw much time with the club in the Premier League.
And now you’re tied for first place early on. What has been working for Fulham in your three wins?
We're playing a consistent system. We have enough pace on the team to challenge back lines and to press effectively. After about 4 years of searching, we have a center back pairing that seems to be working. Matt Smith is proving to be a challenge for opposing defenses. There's actually very little that isn't going right. This is the first time Fulham have won their first two games since 2000-2001, a season which saw them finish with 101 points and a +58 goal differential.
Where do you think you’ll finish the season?
Before the season, I was expecting a finish in the top 10, with the possibility of challenging for a playoff spot. I think now, with a little strengthening, this squad is good enough to be in the top six conversation for the entire year.
What’s the best part about being a Fulham fan in 2016? The worst?
I love interacting with other Fulham fans. The phrase "a family club" gets thrown around a lot, but with Fulham it really is true. The fans are usually pretty great to each other and the club is pretty great to them. The worst part is that we've been conditioned to expect the worst. No matter how things appear at the moment, every Fulham fan is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
What’s one matchup we should watch for on Tuesday?
I think the key to stopping Fulham might be bottling up Matt Smith. His hold up play and ability to occupy defenders is opening up a lot of space for the pace and technical ability of Floyd Ayite, Sone Aluko, and Tom Cairney.
Give us a reason you’ll win:
Fulham are full of confidence. Right now they believe they're going to win, and they score on anyone. Leeds haven't yet stopped anyone from scoring, and I don't think you'll be able to hang with us in a shootout.
Give us a reason you’ll lose:
This is the fourth game in 11 days, the third straight road trip. Fulham's first team squad is only at 24 players right now. They're missing their first choice right back and could still be missing their first choice keeper. That's a lot to overcome.
What’s your predicted result?
I think Fulham will score, and probably score more than once. We've seen though that Fulham have been letting off the gas when up multiple goals and letting teams get back into the game. I'd like to think that won't happen again. So I'm going to predict a 2-0 Fulham win.
Yeah, after our rough game against Birmingham, Andrew doesn’t give us much of a chance against Fulham, does he? Regardless, thanks to him for helping us with the third Leeds Against The World Q&A of 2016/17. You can read more about Fulham on the SB Nation website, Cottagers Confidential.
We already have a full preview of the Fulham match on the blog and a full autopsy of the Birmingham match as well, so make sure you read those. But what do you think happens tomorrow, Leeds fans? Can we win against a hot Fulham squad? Do they continue our difficult start and heat up Monk’s hot seat even further? Let us know, and thanks for reading. #MOT.