Date: 19th December 2019
Time: 15.00 GMT, 10.00 ET, 08.00 PST.
Venue: Craven Cottage, Fulham, London, England
Streaming: iFollow, LUTV (outside the UK).
This match is also previewed in our latest podcast, which you should definitely listen to and can be listened to here.
Leeds United travel to that there London to face Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Fulham have dropped into 6th place in the Championship table after a run of three consecutive defeats. First at home to Bristol City, then away against Preston North End and Brentford FC.
Despite this poor run, it should be noted that all the teams they faced are high up in the table. More important than this however, is the sheer quality available in the squad. Often playing with a three of Brighton and Hove Albion loanee Anthony Knockaert, perennial thorn in Leeds’ side Tom Cairney, and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ loanee Ivan Cavaleiro behind Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic - a front four which on paper (in my opinion) is the best in the league. These are backed up by Aboubakar Kamara and Neeskens Kebano, who are both good players in their own right.
It isn’t only up top where the squad has quality. Fulham have two strong goalkeeping options in Marcus Bettinelli, who was called up into the England squad in September 2018, and Slovakia U21 international Marek Rodak, who is now a regular in the senior squad. Rodak has been the choice of manager Scott Parker lately.
In defence, at right-back it will probably be a choice between youngster Steven Sessegnon or Republic of Ireland international Cyrus Christie, they also have one-time Belgium international Denis Odoi. I would expect Christie to get the nod.
They are more settled at centre-back, with the pairing of Alfie Mawson (fee could be up to £20m from Swansea City) and experienced USA international Tim Ream. They are also strong at left-back with Joe Bryan who is likely to pose a real attacking threat.
In central midfield they could use the aforementioned Cairney in a deeper role, but Norway international Stefan Johansen and ex-Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Josh Onomah were the pair used last time out. Bobby Decordova-Reid is back in training and he could play as the attacking midfielder if Cairney was to drop back. On loan Southampton midfielder Harrison Reed and fellow loanee, AFC Bournemouth’s Harry Arter, are also central midfield options.
For Leeds, it is much simpler. Captain Liam Cooper returns to the squad, and probably the line-up, where you would assume he takes the place of Gaetano Berardi. Jamie Shackleton and Tyler Roberts are fit again but aren’t available yet. Other than that, barring a late injury I would expect no changes.
Bielsa says Roberts and Shackleton are fit again. But Forshaw still not ready to return. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) December 19, 2019
Marcelo Bielsa was at a loss to explain the 30 minute capitulation which saw Leeds throw away a 3-0 lead at home to Cardiff City, but he made sure to point out that for an hour Leeds were as good as they have been all season - which should mean most of them keep their places.
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Rodak; Christie, Mawson, Ream, Bryan; Onomah, Johansen; Knockaert, Cairney, Cavaleiro; Mitrovic.
Leeds (4-1-4-1): Casilla; Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Costa, Hernandez, Klich, Harrison; Bamford.
This is one of Leeds toughest tests of the season, and despite Fulham’s recent poor form they will be massively up for this. I am going to go for a 2-2 draw.
What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.