Fulham host Leeds at Craven Cottage on Saturday in the lunchtime kick-off as mid-table takes on relegation candidates in Premier League action. The Cottagers returned to winning ways last time out, whilst the visitors must put in a much improved display after conceding a gigantic 11 goals over their last two league matches.
It has been a season to remember for head coach Marco Silva and he looks in great shape to guide his Fulham side to their best finish since 2013 when Martin Jol managed to secure a 12th-placed finish. After defeating Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park last Saturday, Fulham managed to put an end to a five-match run of losses in all competitions. The triumph also saw them surpass the magic 40-point mark and safety seems practically certain.
However, the same cannot be said for a struggling Leeds side who head into this one on the back of two extremely poor home defeats - 5-1 against Crystal Palace and 6-1 against Liverpool. New manager Javi Gracia was able to yield ten points out of a possible 18 in his first six league matches and the Whites appeared to be moving in the right direction. Nevertheless, the last two performances have been woeful and their defensive issues cannot be ignored as we head into the final run-in of the season. They currently sit in 16th and are just two points away from the relegation zone.
The West London outfit were in danger of becoming the next yo-yo team after seeing successive relegations from the Premier League, led by Slavisa Jokanovic and Scott Parker. However, former Everton and Watford boss Silva has steadied the ship and is set to establish Fulham as top flight regulars once more.
The Cottagers wrapped up a 2-0 win in their last meeting with Leeds back in February to advance into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and they also got the better of the Whites the last time they met in league play, recording a 3-2 win at Elland Road in the reverse fixture back in October. However, the away side should take some confidence in the fact that they were victorious when they last met at Craven Cottage in the Premier League as they registered a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Patrick Bamford and Raphinha.
Aleksandr Mitrovic’s stellar campaign has taken a turn for the worse as his eight-match ban for pushing referee Chris Kavanagh during their loss at Manchester United in the FA Cup continues. He was Fulham’s main goal scoring threat with 11 goals to his name in the league thus far and his absence has been felt. Loanee Daniel James led the line last time out and also managed to get on the scoresheet in the win over Everton but he will be unavailable here since Leeds are his parent club. Neeskens Kebano will remain out too due to an Achilles tendon injury, whilst Layvin Kurzawa is dealing with a knee injury and is unlikely to feature.
For Leeds, Patrick Bamford is facing a late fitness test after missing the Liverpool match due to a calf injury. Top league goalscorer Rodrigo is set to keep his spot up top as he continues to work on his fitness after his return from injury last month. Wilfried Gnonto also recently returned from injury and could help add a bit of flair and panache to the Leeds attack. Stuart Dallas and Tyler Adams are not expected to feature, however, as their recoveries continue from a broken leg and a hamstring injury respectively.
Saturday’s match-up is available live on BT Sport 1 and can also be viewed on the BT Sport app.
Expert Insight: Leeds need to bounce back from their two awful defeats of late but they clearly need to work on their defensive frailties. Fulham managed to score three in their last match but they will miss their attacking options in Mitrovic and James. However, Manor Solomon could feature and he also scored in the FA Cup when the two teams met earlier this season. It’s a match that could go either way but the hosts should feel more confident at taking all three points.