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Match Preview - Fulham v Leeds 13.03.04

last updated Friday 12th March 2004, 1:59 PM
Fulham Manager Chris Coleman

Chris Coleman looks set to return to the helm for this weekend's Barclaycard Premiership clash with Leeds United at Loftus Road.

The Fulham boss was rushed to hospital nearly two weeks ago with a mystery illness and missed three games, while assistant manager Steve Kean took charge.

Coleman returned to the training ground earlier this week and a club spokesman said: "He is feeling well and very happy to be back on the training pitch with the players to help prepare for the fixture against Leeds."

On the back of their FA Cup exit at the hands of Manchester United last weekend, Fulham are preparing to take on strugglers Leeds. This will be the perfect game for them to overcome a recent poor run and reinvigorate their season.

Although they lost out on a cup semi-final place, Kean couldn't fault the effort of his players at Old Trafford last weekend. He said: "I think the performance will give us a lift and if that spurs us on into the top six or seven then great. We gave it a go out there. This is a hard place to come and though the result wasn't what we wanted it was a great team effort."

The return of Coleman will also be a likely boost for the team, and it's one they need having taken just five points from their last six games. They have started to slide following the departure of Louis Saha but something needs to be done to get the club back on track, and fast.

In ninth at the moment, a winning run will push them back up to the UEFA Cup places they had occupied earlier in the season, otherwise they are looking at mid-table mediocrity, which would a disappointing finish considering their excellent start to the campaign.

Their most recent Barclaycard Premiership fixture was also against the English champions: a mouth-watering tie considering that earlier this season Fulham had beaten them 3-1 at Old Trafford. The two teams played out a 1-1 draw as Louis Saha, naturally, scored the opener against his former club before Luis Boa Morte levelled.

Sean Davis was outstanding in that game, and revealed the club's ambition: "We do think we can finish in the top eight. Fulham have never finished that high and it would be a huge achievement if we could do that.

"We've got to knuckle down and push on now. We can't just settle for finishing 16th in the league and staying up. That's no good to us."

Leeds ManagerThings are far worse for Leeds United, as the Yorkshire side are not only riddled with debt problems but are now facing injury worries as well - star striker Alan Smith among them.

The 23-year-old limped out of the Liverpool game two weeks ago having injured himself the week before, but the club are hoping that last weekend's break will have given him the perfect opportunity to recover. Eirik Bakke is set to miss out on Saturday though because of a torn thigh muscle.

Smith, along with strike partner Mark Viduka, is pivotal to the club's survival hopes according to caretaker boss Eddie Gray. He said: "I have said in the past it is important we keep the front two fit. That gives a lift to the boys and a lot of inspiration when they see Mark Viduka and Alan Smith up there.

"They then know that when those two are playing we have a chance and that is important to us."

Leeds are still keeping the bottom of the Barclaycard Premiership warm, and relegation is a real prospect for the cash-strapped club. They need to put together a decent run in their remaining 11 matches if they are to prevent a return to Division One, after an unbroken 14-year spell in the top-flight.

They have lost three, drawn two and won one of their last six games, but recent performances have given them some cause for optimism, having beaten Wolves before earning a point against both Manchester United and Liverpool.

It was an enthralling game at Elland Road against Gerard Houllier's side, with Bakke equalising after Harry Kewell's opener, and then Viduka putting Leeds in front before they were made to settle for a draw when Milan Baros equalised on the stroke of half time.

Last season's meeting between Fulham and Leeds at Loftus Road saw the home side record a 1-0 win thanks to Martin Djetou's goal, and they would be happy to settle for a similar result this time, which would spell further trouble for their opponents.

source: 4thegame
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Come On You Fulham
Stats from Premiership games
Craven Cottage on Loftus Road
Premiership 28 - 13 Mar 04
Pos Fulham Leeds Pos Div
Games Played 9 27 27


Goals Scored 5 39 26 19 36
Ave Goals Per Game   1.44 0.96   1.33
Shots 7 295 227 20 288
% Goals To Shots 9 13% 11% 12 13%
Shots On Target 4 142 88 20 125
% Shots On Target 2 48% 39% 19


Ave Shots Per Game   11 8   11
Ave Shots On Target Per Game   5 3   5
Total Passes 8 9915 8495 19 9879
Ave Passes Per Game   367 315   366
Total Crosses Made 19 525 604 14 640
Ave Crosses Per Game   19 22   24
Goals Conceded 11 38 53 20 36
Ave Goals Conceded Per Game   1.41 1.96   1.33
Tackles 1 915 809 5 755
Tackles Won 1 684 568 7 553
% Tackles Won 3 75% 70% 19 73%
Ave Tackles Won Per Game   25 21   20
Clean Sheets   8 3   8
Fouls 8 391 424 20 383
Average fouls per game   14 16   14
Yellow Cards 11 41 55 20 41
Fouls per Yellows 8 9.5 7.7 18 9.3
Red Cards 16 3 3 19 1
Figures in the Pos columns indicate position in League
Cipher stat flash
Fulham have what is usually called a must win game on Saturday when they play bottom of the Premiership Leeds. A win gives The Cottagers 39 points and virtual Premiership safety a defeat could see Fulham drop to 13th spot.
  • Leeds are in 20th place in the Premiership after 27 games and 19th for just the last 6 games. It appears to be mostly down to their attacking efforts have been the worst in the Premiership, shooting less, having less on target efforts and only Wolves have scored less. However things have changed in the last 6 games somewhat with Leeds scoring 8, in comparison to Fulham's 6, but they are still the most inaccurate team in the top flight. Since a certain party headed North for medals, ho, ho, Fulham have remained one of the top squads for accuracy in front of goal. What they still have to sort out is converting shots into goals with just 4 league goals in their last 6 games.
  • In the middle of the park Leeds are poor with just Leicester making less passes. Even in the last 6 games they have improved just marginally. Fulham have been one of the more exciting passing teams but in the last 6 games they have fallen below their early season standards and are now average. In relation to crosses Leeds have been better than Fulham since the start of the season but recently the difference is marginal.
  • In defensive terms Leeds have one of the poorest defences in the Premiership conceding an average of 2 goals per game. Their biggest problems are away from home where they have conceded 31 goals in 13 games, 10 in their last 6 away games. Leeds tackling efforts have fallen away in recent games ending up about 15th in relation to Fulham second best in the Premiership.
  • Leeds have managed to receive the largest number of yellows in the Premiership and the third highest number of fouls. There should be a few more at Loftus Road considering how desperate Leeds must be.
If the stats are taken at face value Leeds have one of the worse attacks and defences in the Premiership and even in recent games they have been poor in relation to other squads. It would seem that the only way they can win this game is if the Fulham squad are not up for it. Fulham
* FULHAM are searching for a first win in five Premiership outings in order to close the six point gap between themselves and fourth place, as they prepare to oppose an improving yet bottom placed Leeds United.
* Currently positioned four places higher than their previous best Premier League finish of 13th.
* One point better off after 27 matches than in 2001/02 when that 13th place was achieved.
* Failed to score in only two home Premiership games against Wolves (0-0) and Chelsea (0-1). Only Arsenal can beat that having scored in all but one of their top flight games at Highbury.
* Gone nine League games since winning by more than a single goal (2-0 home to Southampton on Boxing Day). Leeds
* LEEDS UNITED prop up the rest in the table, but are only two points below the survival line and victory could lift them out of the relegation zone altogether. A disastrous seven match losing run in League and Cup since the end of December has been followed by a 4-1 home victory over fellow strugglers Wolves, a magnificent 1-1 draw with champions Manchester United at Old Trafford and a 2-2 draw home to an out-of-sorts Liverpool.
* Not lost in three - all Premiership.
* Won one and drawn two Premiership games since losing 2-0 at Aston Villa on 7 February.
* Won once in 12 matches in all competitions, once in 11 Premiership encounters.
* Not kept a clean sheet in nine League outings.
* Kept only three clean sheets in total in this League campaign so far.
* Drawn two and lost four on the road (all PL) since beating Charlton 0-1 at the Valley on 29 November.
* Won only five times in the League this season.
* Conceded more goals than any other Premiership club (53).
* 14 of those 53 goals have been shipped in the last quarter-hour.
* Yet to achieve a Premiership 'double' this season.
Last home game against Leeds
Last away game against Leeds
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