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Match Preview: Leeds v Fulham. Against Liverpool we had no expectations, no such luxury this weekend.

The second game of the season is never “must win”, but this is one where a result is needed.

Leeds United v Hull City - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Phil Noble - Pool/Getty Images

Match: Leeds United v Fulham

Date: 19th September 2020

Time: 15.00 GMT, 10.00 ET, 08.00 PST.

Venue: Elland Road, Beeston, Leeds, England, LS11 0ES

Streaming/TV coverage: BT Sport, LUTV.


Leeds United impressed people against Liverpool but came away with nothing. They now welcome Fulham to Elland Road, and now the result is much more important.

Fulham were promoted after beating Brentford in the play-off final - which most would suggest was the absolute minimum based on the squad available to Fulham manager Scott Parker. They were at many times, less than the sum of their parts, and weirdly seemed to play better football when Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic wasn’t in the side - despite him being one of the two standout goalscorers in the division. Mitrovic didn’t start against Arsenal but I would expect him to be back in for this game.

Now they are in the Premier League and opened up with a 3-0 defeat at home to Arsenal, despite this result, most people said they played alright and looked a better side than they did at some points last season.

We know Fulham can perform well against a Marcelo Bielsa Leeds United side. In Leeds’ 3-0 win over Fulham in the run-in at the end of last season, Fulham were comfortably the better side in the first half as Leeds struggled to deal with their high press (Fulham’s structure out of possession is discussed here, and in the Twitter thread below).

Fulham’s biggest issue when I saw them last season, was that they were slow when building up play and that made it difficult for them to create chances - this did continue against Arsenal, but Arsenal should be a more difficult opponent than Leeds currently are.

Fulham are likely to play Tom Cairney in the deeper role alongside Harrison Reed like they did last season. The Cairney/Mateusz Klich battle could be very interesting in the middle, as I would assume Reed will pick up Pablo Hernandez.

I would expect Leeds to only make one change from the line-up at Anfield, with captain Liam Cooper replacing Pascal Struijk (who did his prospects no harm with his performance).

Leeds will play how a Marcelo Bielsa side play, we know how that is. It will be interesting to see if Leeds look to hit as many early balls out to Jack Harrison and Helder Costa as they did against Liverpool, or whether they will revert to using Pablo Hernandez in the way they did in the games where they were dominant last season.

Harrison and Costa should have easier time chasing back with Denis Odoi and Joe Bryan than they against Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. However, Kenny Tete and Antonee Robinson have been signed so there could be changes at full-back.

PREDICTED LINE-UPS

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

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

Leeds need to win this game and I think we will be good enough in attack to break through Fulham’s defences. Leeds will in theory have a “full-strength” back four but they still aren’t used to playing together so I can’t predict a clean sheet.

Leeds United 2 - 1 Fulham (Bamford, Costa; Mitrovic)

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