Fulham vs Leeds | Friday 19th March 2021, 20:00 | Sky Sports
The Premier League fixture list is depleted with the FA Cup quarter-finals taking place, but what we do have kicks off on Friday night by the Thames.
Relegation-threatened Fulham welcome Leeds to Craven Cottage and will look to bounce back from defeat to champions-elect Man City last time out.
The Cottagers shot themselves in the foot, at times, in that loss. But in recent weeks, they’ve shown enough to encourage Scott Parker, and the Fulham faithful, they can beat the drop.
Leeds have won just one of their last six and have failed to score in four of their last five. Saturday’s draw against Chelsea somehow remained goalless despite both goals living charmed lives.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side have earned plenty of plaudits for their style of play, but in recent weeks it hasn’t seemed as gung-ho or as sharp as it was in the early weeks of the season.
Their recent performances won’t have met the levels expected by their tough taskmaster, and a trip to London might not be what they need right now.
More capital punishment for Leeds?
There’s always a quirky stat doing the rounds. This week it’s about Leeds’ woes in London.
The Whites are winless in their last 16 away games against London sides in all competitions since a 3-1 win at QPR in December 2017 (D2 L14).
And this season alone, they’ve lost all five matches in the capital, conceding 16 goals in the process.
Can Fulham pile on their London woes? The Cottagers have lost just one of their last eight home league games against Leeds – winning four, drawing three.
The hosts have improved in recent months, so I was tempted to back them to win by one goal. It’s 3/1 and has copped in three of their five league wins this term.
Fulham have looked more resilient, keeping five clean sheets in their last eight. So, if they were to win this, you’d imagine they’d manage to keep the visitors quiet, despite the promising attack they possess.
Leeds have struggled in front of goal in recent outings as well. Bielsa’s men have failed to score in four of their last five, including in their defeat at West Ham the other week.
While on both of those fronts, going against goals could be the way to go. Nine of Fulham’s last 11 league games have all seen under 2.5 goals, while that outcome has landed in five of Leeds’ last seven.
The betting angles
With those numbers pointing towards a low-scoring affair, I’ll put under 4 goals in a Bet Builder with both teams over 0 cards at 11/10.
Fulham have picked up one card in 26 of 29 league games, including 13 of 14 at home – it was just last time out v Man City letting the full house down. Only Sheffield Utd (55) have had more yellows than Fulham (52) this season.
The numbers are good for Leeds as well. The Whites have received a caution in 23 of 28 matches, including 11 of 14 away. In total, that’s 43 yellows.
And the referee appointment is encouraging. David Coote is in the man in the middle. In 18 of his 22 matches in all comps, he’s shown at least two cards, while in his 14 Premier League middles, he has shown 44 yellows and two reds.
It was earlier this month he visited Craven Cottage giving Fulham two cards. While in his three Leeds games, he’s given their players three cards – two of which have gone to Kalvin Phillips.
Overall, he’s given both sides a card in 13 of the matches he’s taken charge of this season, so I’m more than happy to take that with both teams liking to counter with pace, with a host of agile, tricky players on the park.
The other angle I’ll take is in the shots on target specials market, and it probably won’t come as much of a surprise.
It’s well known that Leeds are vulnerable from set pieces, so that’s one area Fulham can exploit.
Bielsa’s side have conceded 46 times in the Premier League this season – 14 of those have been from set pieces (30%).
And, both of Fulham’s centre-backs had headers on target in their 1-0 defeat against Spurs earlier this month, so they could well trouble this Leeds backline, especially if Liam Cooper is still sidelined.
Joachim Andersen’s prices appeal. He’s 9/1 for one and 150/1 for two on Sky Bet. And, the former Lyon man had headers on target in back-to-back games against Palace and Spurs.
When you look back at recent Leeds games, you’ll see a range of players having headed shots on and off target against them. It was Kai Havertz last Saturday, but before that Tomáš Souček and Craig Dawson (scored) troubled them.
Against Villa, Tyrone Mings had a couple of headers blocked, while Southampton’s Jannik Vestergaard won a few aerial challenges in the Leeds area.
So, there’s enough reason to believe that 9/1 is worth taking given the visitors’ vulnerability. In contrast, his centre-back partner Tosin Adarabioyo is 11/4 for one and 25/1 for two.
Jack Harrison 2+ & 3+ tackles at 10/11 and 11/4 (Sky Bet) were both on the radar, but both narrowly missed out in my staking plan. He’s hit 2+ 14 times this season, while the 3+ line has landed on seven occasions.
They were both considered, but I’m waiting to see how Fulham line-up before taking them, so I’ll go with these two punts.
Fulham vs Leeds – Under 4 Goals and Both Teams Over 0 Cards (11/10 Bet365)
Fulham vs Leeds – Joachim Andersen 1+ headed shot on target (9/1 Sky Bet)