Leeds v Fulham Tips: Stalemate the value at Elland Road

Leeds take on fellow promoted side, Fulham, at Elland Road on Saturday in their first home Premier League match of the season and Steve Rawlings fancies we might see a tight affair...

Leeds v Fulham
Saturday September 19, 15:00
Live on BT Sports

Leeds looking to back-up promising start

Although they'll be disappointed to have lost their opening Premier League fixture, Leeds left Anfield with their pride intact last Saturday and with a promise of plenty to come.

Their 4-3 defeat to the champions wasn't necessarily a harsh result, despite two of Liverpool's goals coming vying penalties, that on another day may not have been given. Leeds enjoyed more of the possession and they worked extremely hard too - making more tackles (33) than any other away team at Anfield in the last five years, since Jurgen Klopp became manager in 2015.

They came from behind to draw level three times before Mo Salah scored from the penalty spot for a second time in the 88th minute to make it 4-3 so it was an exasperating finale but on expected goals, or xG as its expressed as a stat, the home side deserved the win. Liverpool's xG was 3.12 compared to Leeds' 0.33. Incredibly. the visitors scored all three of their shots on target.

Changes aplenty were made ahead of their League Cup game at home to Hull on Wednesday night but the trend continued and they only had two shots on target this time - converting one. Ezgjan Alioski made it 1-1 in the 93rd minute but it was all for nothing as they lost 9-8 on penalties.

Those two games were like chalk and cheese but the lack of chances created in either is a concern - especially given how unusually it was to see them so ruthless in front of goal. The Whites scored with just 31% of their shots on target in the Championship last season and that was the 4th lowest rate in the division.

Fulham may prove tough nuts to crack

Fulham were brushed aside 3-0 by Arsenal in the opening game of the new Premier League season last Saturday and manager Scott Parker was very accepting of the result.

"When you are a team like us that has come from the Championship you can't let defeat after defeat really cripple you. We are going to lose more than we win but as a team you have to keep learning and developing. It has been a quick turnaround for us. We have brought players in that will improve us and hopefully there will be more. We need to get them up to speed quickly."

That can be construed as a negative reaction to a defeat but he's right, and I'd consider it pragmatic. Arsenal are a side on the up under Mikel Arteta and his charges were revved up nicely to kick the campaign off in style. Losses like the one experienced last weekend are inevitable and Fulham have already moved on - beating Ipswich away in the League Cup on Wednesday.

Parker made nine changes to the team that faced Arsenal but it was still an encouraging result and having their captain, Aleksandar Mitrovic, back in the side to score the only goal of the game and his 50th for the club, was a real fillip.

History points to a draw

With games away at Yorkshire rivals, Sheffield United, at home to Manchester City, and away at Wolves next on the agenda, this will be seen as a bit of a must win fixture for Leeds following last week's trip to the home of the champions.

The Whites beat Fulham 3-0 at home last season on their way to winning the league but that was the first time they'd beaten the Cottagers in eight meetings.

Leeds impressed plenty last week with their gutsy performance and it's no surprise to see them trading at odds-on here but they're short enough at around 1.65. Other than a 4-0 beating in the FA Cup at Manchester City, Fulham's defeat at Elland Road in the Championship in June is their only loss on the road this year and it was their only defeat in their last 12 away matches last season.

Fulham won the two previous encounters between the two (both at home) but the five games prior were all draws and that looks the most sensible play here at around 3/1. The Cottagers drew ten times away last season and they'll be tough nuts to crack.

Low scoring affair on the cards

Looking back at last season's stats in the Championship, it's hard to envisage a glut of goals here. Only seven of Leeds' 23 home games and seven of Fulham's 23 away matches produced three or more goals.

Both fixtures between these two last season saw three goals scored - 3-0 to Leeds at Elland Road and 2-1 to Fulham at Craven Cottage - but no more than two goals were scored in their previous six encounters and I can see why Under in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market is odds-on.

In the 23 away games Fulham played last season, both teams found the net 12 times (52%) but both teams scored in only seven of the 23 games played at Elland Road. Yes is the very slight favourite in the Both Teams to Score market but those stats suggest No should be but given four of the last eight encounters between these two ended in a 1-1 draw, I'm happy to take a small chance on that score at a juicy 8.80 in the Correct Score market.

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