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Photo Credit: Jon Candy

3 Reasons Leeds Should Fear £11m Ex-Skipper Against Fulham

Saturday sees the first game between Leeds United and Fulham since 2004, when the Whites were relegated from the Premier League.

The tie at Elland Road may be Fulham’s return to the ground after a ten year absence, but it also features the return of former Leeds skipper Ross McCormack.

Fulham did a considerable amount of business with Leeds in the summer, signing a 40 goal strike partnership for a combined total of around £12 million, with McCormack moving for £11 million.

While Matt Smith floundered after joining the London side, ultimately moving back to League One on loan, McCormack is slowly asserting himself since the departure of Felix Magath.

However, things are still not hunky dory for Kit Symons’ side.

While they sit only a point behind Leeds in the table, in 18th, they suffered a humiliating 5-0 loss against Watford last week at Craven Cottage.

Leeds showed their defensive problems last week, losing 4-1 to Ipswich Town.

McCormack has not yet hit his true heights, but Leeds fans know there are reasons to fear him against their questionable defence.

Here are some of the reasons why:

1. He’s still an exceptional goalscorer, when given a chance – he scored 29 goals last season for the Elland Road side.

2. McCormack is at his most dangerous when he feels he has been wronged. Huddersfield felt his ire last year when their fans claimed he didn’t want to play – the outcome was a hat trick in a 5-1 win. He consistently scored in high pressure, high tempered derby matches last season too.


Leeds fans will do well not to give him a reason to play at his peak.

3. He’s provided seven assists this season. A striker like Hugo Rodallega, with eight goals this campaign, could benefit from his service against the Whites.

Errr…or not.

5 Reasons Why Chelsea Are Dominating, feat. Winger With Best Take Ons In PL

Amitai Winehouse (@awinehouse1)

Last night’s display against Schalke spoke for a Chelsea side at the top of their game.

The 5-0 victory, away from home, against Roberto Di Matteo’s new team, was the absolute epitome of everything Jose Mourinho has been building since he took charge of Chelsea again last summer.

Unlike other teams in the Mourinho mould, his Chelsea side have graft and beauty in equal measure.

They now head into December, assuming they can manage the next game, undefeated in all competitions and with only one draw in the Premier League, which came away from home against last season’s champions Manchester City, showing the extent to which they are the top dogs in the English top flight.

Here’s why they’ve been so good:

1. Nemanja Matic

Brought back from Benfica for £21 million last January, Matic is the platform on which Chelsea play. He’s a dominating figure in the middle of the park and offers a shield for the back and talent going forward.
Bringing back Matic was arguably Mourinho’s best decision since his return.

2. Cesc Fabregas

An Arsenal hero, yes, but Fabregas will undoubtedly go on to make a bigger impact at Chelsea than he did with the north London side.
He offers creative flair alongside Matic, and the two in tandem are comfortably one of the stronger midfield pairings in the league.

3. Eden Hazard

This is an obvious one, but it’s staggering to think of how good Hazard has actually been this season. He’s scored more than 1 in 3, provides more than two chances a game for his teammates and completes 65.26% of his take ons, with the highest number in the league at 62 take ons.
He’s a genuine star and any team would be lucky to have him.

4. Diego Costa

Diego Costa looks like he eats bullets for breakfast and gunpowder for lunch, then tops it off with a lit match for dinner. He’s a brutal striker, one who scares defenders and backs it up with goal after goal.
He has 11 goals in only 10 games in the Premier League – what more could you ask for from a striker?

5. The Defence And Courtois

Mourinho’s sides are famed for their ability to keep out the opposition, but with more attacking drive in the team this could have fallen by the wayside.
It is to the credit of the defence and Thibaut Courtois, freshly returned from his loan spell at Atletico Madrid, that this has not happened. Courtois often displays moments of individual shot stopping brilliance when it looks inevitable that an opponent will score.
This is, in part, why Chelsea have the second best defensive record in the league, behind only surprise package Southampton. They’ve conceded only 11 goals.

Leeds Utd Starlet Lewis Cook Could Finally Replace Legendary Batty

Amitai Winehouse (@awinehouse1)

Leeds United have been blessed in recent years by the exceptional run of young stars produced by their academy.

It is to the benefit of those stars that Neil Redfearn, the man who oversaw their development, is now in charge of the first team, having been appointed as head coach after the sacking of Darko Milanic.

His arrival has heralded the full integration of Lewis Cook, who was kept on the fringes of the first team by the two previous coaches.

While his partner in the middle of the park, Alex Mowatt, has won most of the plaudits, understandable given his recent goalscoring exploits, Cook offers significant hope for the future.

Leeds’ great sides have always had a steely option in midfield.

The most famous player to play in that role was Scottish midfielder Billy Bremner, who came to define what Leeds fans expected from a player.

Billy Bremner

Tiny but filled with a combative spirit, Bremner possessed talent in bucket-loads, but also knew how to handle the darker sides of the game.

Bremner also had a key role in the development of another Leeds midfield great, David Batty.

Batty made his debut in 1987 under Bremner during his spell in charge of Leeds, and like the Scot, Batty was small but tough.

The relationship between the two was such that Bremner used to make Batty come to his office every morning to drink a sherry with a raw egg stirred into it, due to a belief that Batty was slightly too lightweight to succeed.

Batty prospered from there, winning Division One with Leeds under Howard Wilkinson, the Premier League with Blackburn and making 42 appearances for England.

Batty’s retirement in 2004, after his return to Leeds, came after a long spell out of the side, but many Leeds fans would tell you that the Whites have never really replaced him.

There have been attempts to bring in defensive midfielders, but they’ve never been like Batty or Bremner, strong but skilled, supreme players but with an edge to their game.

Cook looks like he could be the first true replacement for Batty in a decade.

Lewis Cook

Like the former Newcastle man and Bremner, Cook stands at under 5 ft 10 inches, but those who have seen him this season would be aware that no opponents can bully him out of the game.

Cook wins nearly two tackles every 90 minutes, cutting opponents off before they can start an attack.

He also has the passing skill that the ex-Leeds duo possessed, able to launch attacks after picking the ball up front defence.

It’s not just in recycling play that he impresses, with Cook providing over a chance every 90 minutes.

One of the major plus points of Redfearn’s regime so far is that Cook has played every game.

He has made the defensive midfield role his own, and with more attack minded talent around him, has impressed in every game without demanding much attention.

The clash with Blackburn on Saturday, the team with which, to Leeds fans’ chagrin, Batty won the Premier League crown, symbolises an opportunity for Cook to further cement himself as the natural replacement to Bremner’s old charge.

When Batty arrived, Leeds were at a similar mediocre ebb in their history.

While it is risky to put too much pressure on the 17 year old, if he can have a similar effect as Batty did, Leeds could finally start climbing once again.