Fulham could move out of the relegation zone if they beat Leeds on Friday night
A bitesize Premier League weekend kicks off with an important game in the bottom half on Friday night, as Fulham welcome Leeds to Craven Cottage, knowing that a win will take them out of the relegation zone.
Scott Parker’s side can pile the pressure on Newcastle United if they take the three points on home soil, and leave Steve Bruce’s team in the bottom three for the first time this season.
Wins over Sheffield United and Liverpool, as well as draws with Crystal Palace and Burnley in the last six games have presented Fulham with this chance, and Leeds’ record in London is another factor which plays into their hands.
The Whites have won just one of their last ten league visits to the capital. A 3-1 win over QPR way back in 2017 under head coach Thomas Christiansen was earned thanks to a Kemar Roofe hat-trick. Four years on, Christiansen is managing the Panama national team, and Roofe is a Scottish Premiership winner with Rangers.
If Leeds are to break their hoodoo, they’ll be boosted by Patrick Bamford’s fitness. The former Chelsea striker went off with an ankle injury after just over half an hour of the 0-0 draw with his old club, but it isn’t serious. His 13 goals so far this season weren’t enough for an England call-up this week either, with Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins selected ahead of him.
There was also no room for Luke Ayling in Gareth Southgate’s selection, despite rumours of him making the cut earlier in the week, but Kalvin Phillips made it, and both should start against Fulham. Spanish forward Rodrigo is rated at 50/50, but Liam Cooper is expected to miss out through illness.
German centre-back Robin Koch could come back into the team after almost five months out with injury.
As for Fulham, Scott Parker will be without Bobby Reid who has a knock, and sub goalkeeper Marek Rodak, who has a finger problem. Tom Cairney is a long-term absentee with a knee injury.
With fellow relegation battlers Brighton and Newcastle playing each other on Saturday night, this is about as important a game as Fulham could have at this stage of the season. A positive result would make things even tighter at the bottom, and lift the Cottagers to the brink of safety.
Fulham take on Leeds United at Craven Cottage on Friday, March 19th. Kick-off is at 8pm.