The tactical battle facing Leeds United as Marcelo Bielsa prepares for Scott Parker's Fulham
In the latest of a series for the Yorkshire Evening Post, Jon Mackenzie - from All Stats Aren't We - takes a deeper look at Leeds United's next opponents - Fulham.
It’s been a season of two halves for Fulham.
At the midway point of the campaign, Scott Parker’s team had amassed a mere 13 points.
Ten games later, they’ve doubled that haul with unlikely wins against Everton and Liverpool putting them on the cusp of escaping the relegation zone. There is still a long way to go for Fulham, though, and their run-in from here is hardly enviable.
They’ll be welcoming Leeds to Craven Cottage with an eye to picking up points if they can.
Here are three aspects of Parker’s system to look out for tonight:
A different team:
When Leeds hosted Fulham at Elland Road in their second Premier League fixture since promotion, eight of the players who started for Fulham had played for them in the Championship.
Last week, against Manchester City, only two of the players on the pitch in a Fulham shirt had played for them in the Championship.
In the course of six months, Fulham have completely rebuilt their Championship side.
No doubt this goes a long way towards explaining their recent turn in form.
Leeds will be facing a different challenge to the ones they’ve seen in their more recent matches against Fulham.
Over the course of the last 10 games in the Premier League, Scott Parker has used five different formations.
Predominantly, this is because Parker likes to have his team pressing high and so he adjusts his formation accordingly.
But he also has a depth of squad that allows him to be able to rotate quite widely too.
With their almost total man-marking approach, Leeds like to respond to an opponent’s structure. But Parker isn’t making it easy for Marcelo Bielsa.
Expect to see a little bit of tweaking tonight if Bielsa doesn’t anticipate Parker.
We’ve seen that Leeds can be quite vulnerable to a high press this season.
Fulham themselves caused Leeds a lot of problems in the first half in last season’s fixture at Elland Road.
Against Southampton, Leeds overcame the high press by simply playing over it.
Don’t be surprised if the same tactic is employed tonight.