Leeds United vs Fulham preview: Promotion battle at Elland Road
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Leeds United and Fulham will battle it out at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon in a game which could open up or all but end the Championship's automatic promotion race.

Most expected Leeds to restart their season the way they left off, so a 2-0 away defeat against Cardiff City last weekend wasn't in the script.

The Whites were uncharacteristically disorganised at the back and will need to improve greatly to match the attacking prowess of Fulham.

Although they controlled the game, for the most part, Leeds were plagued by a catalogue of individual errors, with Kalvin Phillips’ misplaced pass handing Cardiff their first goal and Patrick Bamford blocking Jack Harrison’s goal-bound effort, just two of the notable mistakes.

Their opponents also got off to a bad start last weekend, also losing by the same scoreline to Brentford, in a third versus fourth battle at Craven Cottage, with the visitors still able to flex their attacking muscles without one-third of the "BMW", due to Bryan Mbeumo testing positive for coronavirus.

Fulham more than matched the visitors until the final minutes of the game when The Whites were blown away by two late goals. Scott Parker's men remain in third place and can close the gap on their opponents to just four points should they win here.

Team news

Full-back Barry Douglas is sidelined with a calf injury while influential midfielder Pablo Hernandez is back in training, whether he will feature on Saturday will likely be decided closer to kick-off.

Adam Forshaw remains sidelined as he continues his recovery from hip surgery, while Kiko Casilla has served three matches of his eight-game ban, so Illan Meslier will retain his spot in goal.

One change is on the cards for Fulham with winger Ivan Cavaleiro likely to replace Neeskens Kebano on the left-wing, also, centre-back Alfie Mawson is back fit but is unlikely to start ahead of Michael Hector or Tim Ream.

Predicted lineups

Leeds (4-1-4-1): Meslier; Ayling, Cooper, White, Alioski; Phillips; Costa, Dallas, Klich, Harrison; Bamford.

Fulham (4-2-3-1): Rodak; Odoi, Hector, Ream, Bryan; Reed, Cairney; Knockaert, Cordova-Reid, Cavaleiro; Mitrovic.

Ones to watch

Leeds United – Kalvin Phillips

As one of Leeds’ standout performers this season, it will be interesting to see how Phillips responds after an uncharacteristically poor performance against The Bluebirds on Sunday.

The 24-year-old will certainly need to be on top form to cut out Fulham’s attacking threat and maintain his team’s clean sheet record at Elland Road, which has seen them shut out their opponents in their last three games at home.

Fulham – Ivan Cavaleiro

With Cavaleiro likely to return to the starting line-up on Saturday, he will be hoping to make a notable impact and add to the 13 goal contributions (six goals and seven assists) that he has amassed so far this season.

The on-loan winger caused Leeds some problems in their last match and was denied a fine, long-range goal by a brilliant Casilla save in December.

Last time out

Leeds had not lost since 5 October when they travelled to Craven Cottage in late December, but a 2-1 defeat put an end to that 11-game unbeaten run, thanks to goals from Aleksander Mitrovic and Josh Onomah.

In fact, Parker’s side are unbeaten in seven games against the Yorkshire outfit in all competitions which represents the challenge that Marcelo Bielsa’s side face on Saturday as they look to retake the top spot.

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