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Match Preview - Leeds v Fulham

last updated Friday 12th December 2003, 11:45 AM
Fulham Manager Chris Coleman Fulham know exactly what that feels like having battled out of relegation's clutches at the end of the season, and now, thanks entirely to Chris Coleman - they are flying high in fourth in the Barclaycard Premiership, just nine points behind last season's champions Manchester United.

The Cottagers were lucky last weekend and secured a 2-1 victory over Bolton. Kevin Davies put the Trotters in front, but Sean Davis, and then Facundo Sava 60 seconds later, scored to ensure the three points went to Fulham.

It was Sava's first goal in four appearances, and his first goal of the season. He's recently returned from injury but is refusing to get carried away. "Of course I am very happy after that game, but I need to keep working and hoping" he said.

"This goal doesn't change anything. All I can do is make sure I'm ready when the manager needs me."

So who will Coleman opt for up front? He is known to favour playing one striker up front and it has been an integral part of his team's success in recent weeks. Hayles, who was outstanding in last weekend's game, has started just three out of his 13 appearances. Coleman describes him as "all hustle and bustle and a real handful" and has challenged the Jamaican striker, along with his Argentinian rival, to oust Louis Saha as first choice.

"It's hard for Barry and Facundo as they know I'll only play one striker. But they have to realise we're fourth in the league because of the formation we play. I play a team that's gets us results. My number one striker is Louis Saha so it's up to Barry and Facundo to change my mind."

Davis scored his second goal since recovering from injury and withdrawing a transfer request. Chris Coleman has obviously convinced him that Fulham is the place to be - and it's easy to see why.

They've taken ten points from their last six games, and achieved great results over teams like Manchester United (a win) and Arsenal (a draw at Highbury).

Leeds Manager Since Leeds earned four points in their last two games, and the possibly of securing a takeover bid to ease the current money worries has arisen, things finally seem to be looking up for the troubled club.

On the football front, things haven't been going well. Over the past few seasons Leeds have slipped from the heights of the Champions League to the very depths of the Barclaycard Premiership. They haven't been too far away from the bottom all season, and currently sit second from bottom, just one point better off than Wolves.

They've scored five goals but conceded 16 in their last six games. Which isn't looking good. They've parted company with Peter Reid and installed 'unqualified' boss Eddie Gray on a temporary basis but he seems to have done little to change their fortunes.

Having said that, they did earn a crucial draw against table-toppers Chelsea, and won their previous fixture with Charlton. Leeds took an 18th minute lead through Jermaine Pennant's first goal for the club, and it wasn't until the 69th minute that Damien Duff got the equaliser.

The point took them off the foot of the table for the first time since November 1st. Gray was pleased that his side showed passion and commitment to hold on for the point, something that they have often lacked in the past. It took a lot of battling and hard work, and he added: "All the boys worked hard at their game and I hope it gives a psychological lift that we are now off the bottom.

"I would like us to dominate matches more, but that is not going to happen, so for the time being we are simply going to have to work just as hard and make it difficult for other teams to play.

Claudio Ranieri praised his opponents: "It was a difficult match, but then we knew that was going to be the case. Leeds deserved their point, they worked well together, and it meant we had to work just as hard."

There were concerns that David Batty would miss the visit of Fulham on Sunday. He damaged an ankle in training and missed the Chelsea game but could be back to face the Cottagers. He will however have to oust Stephen McPhail who performed superbly against Chelsea in his first start for a year and in his first game back after a three-month loan spell at Nottingham Forest.

A few more hard earned points like that and things could look a lot better for the club who have been staring relegation in the face for the majority of the season.

source: 4thegame
Elland Road, Leeds, Yorkshire
Premiership 16 - 14 Dec 03
Leeds Fulham
Games Played 15 15
Goals 13 26
Ave Goals Per Game 0.87 1.73
% Goals To Shots 11% 16%
Ave Shots Per Game 8 11
Ave Shots On Target Per Game 3 5
% Shots On Target 40% 45%
Short Passes 3260 3918
Long Passes 1614 1708
Total Passes 4874 5626
Ave Passes Per Game 325 375
% Overall Pass Completion 70% 71%
Ave passes completed per game 231 263
Total Crosses Made 309 266
Ave Crosses Per Game 21 18
Goals Conceded 34 19
Ave Goals Conceded Per Game 2.27 1.27
Tackles 466 505
Ave Tackles Per Game 31 34
Ave Tackles Won Per Game 21 25
% Tackles Won 69% 74%
Fouls 243 219
Average fouls per game 16 15
Yellow Cards 39 29
Fouls per Yellows 6 8
Red Cards 1 2

Cipher stat flash
Fulham's next opponents, Leeds, are starting to show signs of life.
  • Leeds have one of the worse goal scoring records in the Premiership this season with just 13 scored and it is not hard to see why. Second worse shots attempted figure in the league and the worst on target figure. That looks like changing with Viduka starting do what he is payed to do.
  • In the middle of the park Fulham are making more passes than Leeds, some 15% more, 20% more short passes but only 5% more long passes. Fulham make less crosses than Leeds and have made the fewest number of crosses in the Premiership so far. Presumably a knock on from playing just one striker.
  • In defensive terms Fulham have conceded 15 goals less than Leeds, with Leeds achieving just 2 clean sheets against Fulham's 6. Fulham remain the top tackling team in the Premiership but Leeds are not far behind as 4th busiest tacklers
  • Leeds are not a lot worse than us when it comes to fouls but they end up with more yellows as they are one of the few clubs to be treated worse than Fulham.
So statistically speaking Fulham are a lot sharper in front of goal, have slightly more possession and are tougher. However Leeds are not a push over in the midfield and with their strikers starting to play it may be a tough game for The Cottagers.

* FULHAM have never finished higher than tenth in the top division. They go into the weekend holding fourth spot with seven wins and four draws. It's their third best start of all time at the top League level and their highest ever position after the first 15 matches of a top flight campaign
* The Cottagers have won 10 of 20 Premier League matches under rookie manager Chris Coleman. Away from Loftus Road, a disappointing 3-1 defeat at Charlton was sandwiched between that sensational 1-3 victory at Manchester United and creditable goalless draw at Arsenal.
* Gone eight League games since recording back-to-back victories.
* Scored in all but one of this season's away Premiership matches.

* Under caretaker Eddie Gray the West Yorkshire club have lost one, won one (0-1 at Charlton) and drawn one so far.
* They still however, go into the weekend with more Premiership defeats than any other club (nine), the weakest top division defence (34 goals shipped in 15 outings)
* United have secured only one home win - fewer than any other club at the highest League level.
* Won only three Premiership matches this season, and all by a mere single goal margin.
* Gone 15 League games since winning by more than one goal.
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