YEP Jury: Leeds United need to be back on the ball to handle Fulham's threat up front
Our fans' panel have their say on Leeds United's clash at sixth-placed Fulham.
After the disappointment of last week, Leeds will go into the final game before Christmas looking to bounce back, and what an opportunity they have.
Beating Fulham away from home would reassert their authority after last week’s slip-up, while the Cottagers themselves will be looking to recover, having lost three on the spin.
Those three defeats all came against sides in and around the play-off places so, if they do fear playing in big games, they could be set to struggle again.
After being sorely missed last weekend, Liam Cooper is set to return for Leeds to shore up the defence, while Helder Costa will be looking to keep his recent run of form going.
He’ll face former Wolves colleague Ivan Cavaleiro who is one third of a dangerous Cottagers front three.
Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored 16 goals this season, while Anthony Knockaert is also a threat.
A return to winning ways would be the perfect Christmas present. Let’s hope it’s a White Christmas.
Prediction: Fulham 2 Leeds United 1.
Fulham is the game we Leeds fans have been eyeing for weeks; it marks the halfway point of the season when we’ll have tested ourselves against all the other 23 sides in the Championship and, a few weeks ago, the Cottagers looked one of the strongest.
Things have gone awry for them in recent times with three consecutive defeats, albeit to three of the strongest sides in the table: Bristol City, Preston and Brentford, sides we took seven out of nine points from.
So, while Leeds have been disposing of the also rans of the Championship lately, we’ve built a very useful 12-point gap between us and the sixth-placed London hopefuls.
With Leeds a better side than Fulham’s three most-recent adversaries and playing scintillating football even in the draw with Cardiff, we should expect to win. Against that, they will be fired up to get their promotion challenge back on track and the dangerous Aleksandar Mitrovic will need to be watched.
I’m sitting on the fence this time and I’d be well pleased with a point.
Prediction: Fulham 2 Leeds United 2.
Only Leeds United fans could be on an 11-game unbeaten run and still be panicking about the team’s mentality and what the future holds.
We are mostly incapable of just enjoying the moment and now everybody is looking to Fulham, a game that already had great meaning, to see how we bounce back from surrendering a 3-0 lead.
The rational Leeds fan says that we look good, we’re better than nearly everyone we’ve played so far this season, we look fit and happy and there’s every chance that we can go into the second half of the campaign and be the same side.
The rest of us are simply worried that we’ll be on the wrong end of a play-off semi-final against Pontus Jansson’s Brentford when May rolls around despite having been well clear of third on the Championship ladder at Christmas.
Fulham have been far from convincing in recent months and we are due a win in the capital.
I’m going to Craven Cottage with hope and I think we can deliver the goods.
Prediction: Fulham 1 Leeds United 2.
Let’s not kid ourselves: so far, so good as Leeds sit second with a 10-point gap to third-placed Preston and will hope to extend it even further by getting a positive result at Fulham.
Marcelo Bielsa blamed himself for the collapse against Cardiff City but he shouldn’t; the blame is with the players not closing out a game they had in their grip and, hopefully, important lessons have been learned.
I don’t expect many changes, but captain Liam Cooper will probably return with Gaetano Berardi dropping to the bench. The rest I’d expect to keep their places; Bielsa isn’t one to make changes for the sake of it.
Fulham have had a poor run of results but will know full well that they have the chance to pull three points back from one of the teams that occupy the top-two places in the Championship. They have a very good squad and in Aleksandar Mitrovic they have a striker who worries any defence he is against.
This game is the start of four really tough fixtures over the Christmas period, and to start with a point wouldn’t be a poor way to kick it off.
Prediction: Fulham 1 Leeds United 1.
After Saturday’s freak result, Leeds United head to London.
Unfortunately their trips to the capital have not been too productive of late but maybe it’s time for a change.
Unusually, we face the Cottagers on a Saturday which is surprising in itself. Tickets are also hard to come by owing to Fulham’s current ground development.
Since beating Swansea at the end of November, the Londoners have lost to Bristol City, Preston and neighbours Brentford.
Therefore you can be assured that Fulham will be fighting hard to turn the tide and become a serious SkyBet Championship promotion contender again. The Whites must return to their Scrooge-like defensive habits as the lurking threat of the ruthless Aleksander Mitrovic will not be far away.
And there will be no room for dithering or uncertainty.
A solid, low-scoring draw would be almost as comforting as a win.
And that is what I’m predicting.
Prediction: Fulham 1 Leeds United 1.