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After both sides lose their first match back, Leeds face Fulham at Elland Road in a huge game.

I don’t think it is fair to call it must win, but we must not lose.

Leeds United v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Match: Leeds United v Fulham FC

Date: 27th June 2020

Time: 15.00 GMT, 10.00 ET, 08.00 PST.

Venue: Elland Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England

Streaming/TV coverage: Sky Sports, LUTV


On paper this should be Leeds’ biggest game of the season.

Leeds United sit second, with a seven point lead over third place Fulham. If Fulham get the three points they will feel they are well placed to catch us and a draw suits Leeds more than it suits Fulham. However, if Leeds can win this game (especially if West Brom do not lose to Brentford on Friday night) Leeds and the entire fanbase will feel much more confident of securing promotion.

Both teams come in to this fixture having lost their first post-lockdown match 2-0. Leeds shot themselves in the foot with a couple of crucial mistakes which Cardiff capitalised on. Leeds weren’t at their best in attack and despite creating some good chances didn’t do enough with them. Leeds missed Pablo Hernandez and his creativity, it is not yet confirmed by Marcelo Bielsa if he will play on Saturday but he definitely is back in training.

Fulham lost 2-0 at home to local rivals Brentford after a competitive game. Fulham had the better of the early stages but Brentford got stronger as the game went on and by the end of the game could have been described as the “better side”, Said Benrahma and Emilio Marcondes both scored late to give the Bees the win.

Ben White and Liam Cooper will have their hands full against the best “out and out” centre forward in the league, Serbia international Aleksandar Mitrovic, who has 23 league goals this season.

Fulham look to hit crosses for Mitrovic as often as possible so (probably) Luke Ayling and Stuart Dallas will have to work hard to get up and down the wings and not allow Fulham to get in behind out wide. Against Brentford, Fulham started Neeskens Kebano and Anthony Knockaert out wide - with Knockaert given more license to roam from his position - although I would not be shocked to see Ivan Cavaleiro come in for Kebano.

Helder Costa and Jack Harrison will also have to work back with Denis Odoi and Joe Bryan who are full-backs who like to get forward. This could also mean that Fulham are one of the rare teams that could allow Leeds United to counter attack as they will not just sit in a low-block and attempt to absorb pressure.

Bobby Decordova-Reid played as a number 10 and looked dangerous. He is a good finisher and can play as a Striker, he can also drop in to play as a number eight alongside former Leeds academy player (and player who always does well against us) Tom Cairney. Cairney cannot be left with much space as he has the ability both to pick a pass and to shoot well from distance.

Southampton loanee Harrison Reed will be the more defensive part of the “2” in a 4-2-3-1, or possibly as the lone DM in a 4-3-3. There was a noticable difference in Fulham’s play on Saturday after Reed was replaced by AFC Bournemouth loanee Harry Arter - this made Fulham lose their solidity in front of the defenders, similar to how Leeds often look when Kalvin Phillips is missing.

Behind Reed will be a centre-back pairing of Michael Hector and Tim Ream. Personally, I think United States international Ream can be got at and when the ball is wide I would be encouraging Bamford to move on to the USMNT man.

Marek Rodak has had a good season in goal (barring one horrorshow against Barnsley FC), and is now a regular in the Slovakia squad. As with most teams though, unless there is something unforeseen it probably will not come down to which side has the better goalkeeper.

PREDICTED LINE-UPS

Leeds (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, White, Cooper, Dallas; Phillips; Klich, Hernandez, Costa, Harrison; Bamford

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Rodak; Odoi, Hector, Ream, Bryan; Reed, Cairney; Knockaert, Decordova-Reid, Cavaleiro; Mitrovic.

Leeds cannot afford to lose this game. A draw would keep the seven point cushion over Fulham (although it could be smaller to third if Brentford beat West Bromwich Albion). A win would put Leeds into a really strong position.

I am going for a 1-1 draw in this game.

What do you think the result will be? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @ThruItAllLUFC.