Fulham vs Leeds – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Saturday 22nd April 2023
As part of our weekend Premier League predictions, we take a look at Leeds United’s trip to Fulham. Leeds are in free fall – 11 goals conceded in two games at home. Can they bounce back? Read on with our Fulham vs Leeds prediction.
Fulham vs Leeds Match Preview
Fulham finally snapped a five-game losing run with a superb 3-1 away victory at Goodison Park over Everton, who had been in good home form recently and were proving difficult to beat there. Prior to that five-game losing run, the West Londoners were undefeated in seven and had won four of those matches. For the Premier League’s mid-table teams, these fluctuations in form are par for the course, and now Fulham must do what they can to keep their dreams of European football alive.
It would be no mean feat to secure European football at the first time of asking for the newly-promoted side, but they do have a crucial game in hand over some of the teams around them (but have played one game more than Brighton). However, they do have some rather tricky fixtures in front of them, with a home match against Manchester City followed by a visit to Anfield to face Liverpool.
An away day at in-form Aston Villa, a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United and a derby match against a resurgent Crystal Palace side all add to the monumental challenge they face. Realistically, a mid-table finish would represent success for Marco Silva’s side, despite their flirtations with the European places throughout the season.
For Leeds United, the horror show continues. Prior to the Liverpool match, we had written about the need for a reaction to restore pride and confidence, and although they struck back at the right time two minutes from the restart through Sinisterra to cut the deficit in half at 2-1, once again they wilted under the pressure and completely collapsed. While the xG stat says 1.45 – 2.67, and Leeds were reasonable in attack, those numbers don’t provide a complete picture.
Liverpool carved open their opponents on at least half a dozen occasions and Leeds were simply unable to cope. It was reminiscent of Liverpool’s performance against Manchester United at Anfield, but for Leeds, this was the second match in a row in which they were up against a standard of play that they simply couldn’t live with.
On paper at least, Leeds face some tricky but winnable fixtures following this encounter. They host a Leicester side in desperately poor form and travel to Bournemouth and West Ham. Their remaining fixtures – away to Manchester City, at home to Newcastle and at home to Spurs are obviously more difficult, although Spurs aren’t in the best of form themselves and are struggling to stay in contention for a Champions League spot.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Kebano, Kurzawa, Mitrovic
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Dallas, Adams
Fulham vs Leeds Lineups (Predicted)
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Leno; Robinson, Ream, Adarabioyo, Tete; Reed, Palhinha; Willian, Pereira, Decordova-Reid; Vinicius
Leeds (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Firpo, Koch, Wober, Ayling; Roca, McKennie; Aaronson, Harrison, Sinisterra; Rutter
Fulham vs Leeds Analysis
Fulham Are Also Good in Transition
The bad news for Leeds is that for much of the season, Fulham have also been good in transition – just like their previous two opponents (although Crystal Palace are essentially rediscovering that side of themselves under the return of Roy Hodgson). Fulham generally don’t need the lion’s share of possession to generate their own goal threat – it’s part of the reason why they’ve been so successful for a newly-promoted side this season.
While it’s only natural that better teams will miss big chances – for example, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City round off the top three in terms of missed big chances – Fulham’s appearance near the bottom of the table for missed chances when taking into account the respectable 42 goals they’ve scored this season means we can categorise them as a clinical side. The issue for Fulham recently has been learning how to play without the considerable presence of Aleksandar Mitrovic up front.
While they made successful changes to defeat Everton 3-1 last time out by playing Dan James as an auxiliary striker with Wilson and Willian in support, James will be unavailable here as Leeds United are his parent club. This means that Fulham must turn elsewhere, and possibly to Carlos Vinicius. We expect Leeds will be somewhat more cautious in this encounter – 11 goals in two games will do that – and Fulham might need a physical presence in attack.
Leeds Can’t Keep Trying to Go Toe-to-Toe
Significantly, most of Liverpool’s goals came from sweeping moves in transition, and almost on the counterattack. In no way does that convey inferiority – they were ruthlessly taking advantage of a huge weakness in this Leeds United team. This Leeds United team and their recruitment policy was implemented around the tactical needs of Bielsa and Marsch. A renowned tactician such as Bielsa and a promising young coach like Marsch had varying degrees of success with this approach.
Bielsa could make it work with players who are average at best for the Premier League, Marsch struggled at times but in hindsight, it was seemingly inevitable. New coach Javi Gracia has owned up to mistakes as a result of these two heavy defeats, and it’s hard to envisage Leeds United sticking with this open approach with seven games remaining and the goals pouring in at the wrong end.
Therefore, surely Leeds will attempt to keep things tight, deny Fulham the opportunity to get in behind and around their back four and look to exploit Fulham if they push forward too much. It’s not as though Leeds don’t have the players to play on the break – they did it to great effect against Manchester United and Wolves to cite recent examples.
It’s tempting to predict another heavy defeat for a Leeds team in disarray that seems to be doing a terrible job of compensating for their in-built flaws. However, football doesn’t often work like that, and we won’t be getting carried away with Fulham’s 3-1 defeat of Everton. Fulham will also be forced to deviate from those tactics that were successful in breaking their losing streak.
No doubt we will see a more cautious Leeds United, but are they capable of keeping things tight and getting a result? If we’re talking about bottom eight teams, if this were Wolves or West Ham we were talking about then maybe they could scrape a result, but we just can’t see Leeds keeping it together for 90 minutes. We’ll back them to score again – they almost always carry a goal threat in the Premier League, but Fulham should do enough to see them off.
Fulham 2-1 Leeds
Fulham vs Leeds Betting Tip – Fulham Odds:
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