THE YEP jury has its say ahead of Leeds United’s clash with Fulham at Elland Road
Fresh from their defensive nightmares at Portman Road, United take on last season’s Premier League outfit Fulham at Elland Road on Saturday.
With the visitors now boasting former Whites’ heroes Ross McCormack and Matt Smith, (who combined to score 42 of United’s 64 goals last season) amongst their ranks, United know that a much-improved defensive display is required for them to have a chance of registering just their third victory in their last 11 games.
Fulham, now under the stewardship of Kit Symons, have the division’s worst defensive record, having conceded almost an average of two goals per game during their Championship campaign to date. Last time out they suffered a crushing 5-0 home defeat so beware a reaction from the visitors!
Injury allowing, it seems likely that Neil Redfearn will look to try and recall Giuseppe Bellusci to start with the same defence that performed so admirably during the victory over table toppers Derby two weeks ago. He may also be tempted to offer a rest to one or more of the youngsters in midfield.
Upfront Mirco Antenucci is currently the first name on the team sheet having scored four goals in his last four outings, but Billy Sharp will, without doubt, be pressing strongly for a start.
It will be interesting to see and indeed compare the receptions afforded to the two former United stars.
It seems pretty certain that Smith will receive a warm welcome based on his 100 per cent commitment and perceived lack of desire to depart the Whites. It may not be quite so straight forward for last season’s player of the year McCormack; it would be churlish not to recognise that without his goals last season, United could well be playing in League One this time around.
It’s been a fairly quiet week in terms of United’s ownership, but the publication of financial statements raised questions over the “fit and proper” owners’ test for previous custodians of The Whites.
This is the last game before Christmas at Elland Road with the size of the crowd often a victim of the Christmas shopping mania. I’ve written my letter to Santa and the first present is required 12 days ahead of the big day – three points against Fulham please!
Two defences who have the stability of quicksand would indicate plenty of goals and I’m just hoping that it’s the Whites who come out on top.
Prediction: Leeds United 3, Fulham 2.
“Return of the Mack’ is a tune by Mark Morrison that made the charts in 1996 and this Saturday former Leeds United hero Ross McCormack returns for the first time to Elland Road since his £11m transfer to Fulham in the summer.
What reception he receives is to be seen, but I cannot question his commitment or goals when wearing a Leeds shirt.
Leeds must be prepared for McCormack and his team-mates as poor defending in the previous game at Ipswich caused a demoralising 4-1 defeat.
Neil Redfearn must decide whether to change last weekend’s team (the culpable Jason Pearce may be dropped if Bellusci is fit. I would like to see Billy Sharp given a start up front. Fulham will be desperate to put last week’s hammering behind them.
A close Leeds win I’m predicting but don’t be surprised if a certain Scottish international is on the scoresheet.
Prediction: Leeds United 2, Fulham 1.
Well this game means a little bit more to me than most, my best man and best mate is a Fulham fan, so a win will do very nicely! Play like we can and we can beat anyone. It will be tough but teams have proved they are beatable. Stop McCormack, stop Fulham!
Prediction: Leeds United 5, Fulham 0.
There is no better way of getting back to winning than by playing a struggling Fulham side.
They have turned a corner over recent weeks but they are vulnerable defensively and it is a good chance for Leeds to score a few goals.
I think there will be a few changes after the disappointing result at Ipswich. We may see Austin come into the midfield and Bellusci may return at the back. I’m confident our defence can handle Ross McCormack but if they switch off for a second he will pounce on the opportunity and score; that’s what he did for us last season.
Let’s hope for a good performance and three points!
Prediction: Leeds United 3, Fulham 0.
No matter how hairy things have got on the road this season, home performances have maintained a steady counter-balance. We have match-winners and, if they win on Saturday, it will be even sweeter being against the club that paid for half of them.
Prediction: Leeds United 3, Fulham 1.
The return of Ross McCormack to Elland Road will be the focus of attention on Saturday, as the £11m summer departure faces Leeds for the first time.
At the time he joined Fulham, he would undoubtedly have expected to have been challenging for promotion, but a disastrous start to the season has seen them embroiled in the battle at the bottom of the table.
A 5-0 defeat last time out for the Cottagers should make Leeds favourites, but the 4-1 loss at Ipswich will certainly have dented the confidence of Neil Redfearn’s side. Leeds may look to add some experience to the undoubted quality in the midfield and Rodolph Austin could well be in line for a recall.
Prediction: Leeds United 2, Fulham 1.