Championship title favourites Leeds welcome promotion-chasing Fulham to Elland Road on Saturday afternoon. Mark O'Haire analyses the contest...
"Only five of the duos collective 36 home/away match-ups have broken the Over 3.5 Goals barrier as 27 (75%) have featured Under 2.5 Goals"
Leeds v Fulham
Saturday June 27, 15:00
Leeds lose top spot
Leeds' title prospects suffered a blow last Sunday as Marcelo Bielsa's men suffered a 2-0 defeat to Cardiff in the Welsh capital. The largely off-colour Whites monopolised the ball, control and territory, dominated the shot and corner counts but were made to pay for their profligate finishing in the final-third and a sloppy performance in and out of possession.
The normally reliable Kalvin Phillips gave the ball away to allow Cardiff the opportunity to open the scoring with their first on-target effort. Leeds were then denied what seemed a certain equaliser when home keeper Alex Smithies made a point-blank save after the break and the Whites then paid the price for over-committing as Cardiff capitalised with a second.
Despite the defeat, Bielsa remain upbeat post-match, saying: "We could have won, we should have won. We created enough chances to score the necessary goals. They needed our mistakes to score, but we know we should have been clearer to finish the attacks. Of course, everything is still in our hands." Pablo Hernandez should be fit to return for Leeds.
Fulham suffer derby defeat
Fulham captain Tom Cairney suggested there would be "no room for slip-ups" in the quest for promotion ahead of the Cottagers' derby contest with Brentford last weekend. However, the Whites failed to heed the pre-match warnings and were upstaged by their near neighbours in a 2-0 reverse at Craven Cottage as the Championship made its awaited return.
Bobby Decordova-Reid went closest to opening the scoring in a first half of high endeavour from both sides, with the forward slamming a shot against the woodwork. Leading scorer Aleksander Mitrovic had a glanced header that went close after the interval but Fulham struggled to fashion clear-cut chances and were eventually undone with two late goals.
Cottagers manager Scott Parker said the Whites would have to put the defeat behind them quickly: "Overall it's disappointing but we dust ourselves off and move on. I was pleased with the players' application and efforts." Cyrus Christie, Stefan Johansen and Ivan Cavaleiro and Harry Arter will all be hoping for recalls to the starting 11 on Saturday.
Bielsa's boys firm favourites
Leeds will be looking to end a seven-match winless streak in league meetings with Fulham (W0-D5-L2) that dates back to March 2015. The past three head-to-head encounters at Elland Road have ended all-square, with Fulham taking the lead in two of those before drawing 1-1. The Cottagers were 2-1 winners in the reverse clash before Christmas.
Leeds [1.75] were the Championship form team (W5-D1-L0) heading into the break, recording five successive shutouts. The Whites weren't at their best in Cardiff and have struggled to convert promising performances into maximum points against top-half rivals this term (W6-D7-L5). Five of the hosts' 11 matches with the top-seven have ended 1-1.
Fulham [4.90] have picked up just six victories on their travels since relegation, although the Cottagers head to West Yorkshire on the back of an unbeaten seven-game spell on their travels (W2-D5-L0). The Cottagers have W2-D4-L2 in games as guests at the top-half and have managed to notch more than a solitary strike just four times in 18 road trips.
Leeds have only failed to score in six of 41 Elland Road outings under Marcelo Bielsa and with the Whites creating 1.21 Expected Goals (xG) from open play, the home side should be capable of opening up a Fulham side that's kept their sheets clean in only five fixtures on their travels.
Even so, opposing a high-scoring showdown is preferred. Only five of the duos collective 36 home/away match-ups have broken the Over 3.5 Goals barrier as 27 (75%) have featured Under 2.5 Goals. With that in mind, the 1.83 available on Leeds Double Chance, Leeds to score Over 0.5 Goals and Under 3.5 Goals via Betfair Sportsbook holds plenty of appeal.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 140.00 pts
Returned: 157.57 pts
P/L: +17.57 pts