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Thursday Preview: Bottom-half battles take centre stage

Original article published 19 October 2022

It's the bottom half of the Premier League table that takes the focus on Thursday night with Fulham hosting Aston Villa and Leeds United making the trip to Leicester City.

With the World Cup break fast approaching, all four teams are hoping to build some more positive momentum before the major tournament in Qatar sees the campaign take a month-long hiatus.

Last chance for Gerrard?

WhatFulham v Aston Villa
WhereCraven Cottage, Fulham
When19:30, Thursday 20th October 2022
How to watchAmazon Prime
OddsFulham 19/10, Draw 23/10, Aston Villa 6/4

There's been plenty of speculation regarding the future of Villa boss Steven Gerrard as his side make the trip to the capital to take on Fulham.

One win in their last seven Premier League games has seen the West Midlands outfit fall down the standings in recent weeks.

After a 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Villa Park last time out, there were some reports the former Liverpool midfielder's time was up.

However, Gerrard is set to be in the dugout at Craven Cottage and his job might rest on a positive outcome on Thursday night.

Fulham have raised a few eyebrows with their efforts on their return to the Premier League, with 12 points from their first 10 games of the campaign.

With one win in their last five league games, there has been a dip in form for Marco Silva's side ahead of the arrival of Villa.

Fulham have no new injury concerns following their 2-2 stalemate with Bournemouth last time out.

Villa defender Tyrone Mings did pick up an ankle knock in the defeat to Chelsea but reports suggest the England centre-back will be fit for the trip to the capital.

Mitrovic a real threat

Aleksandar Mitrovic will be looking to continue his impressive form at Craven Cottage, having found the back of the net nine times in his last eight games at home.

The Serbian international, who was instrumental in guiding Fulham back to the top tier from the Championship at the first time of asking, already has seven Premier League goals to his name this season, with only Erling Haaland, Harry Kane and Ivan Toney above him in the goalscoring charts.

Mitrovic is available at 6/4 to score anytime, while the former Newcastle United striker is 4/1 to bag the opening goal of the game.

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Liverpool’s Diogo Jota to miss World Cup with injury

Pressure also on Rodgers to deliver

WhatLeicester v Leeds
WhereKing Power Stadium, Leicester
When20:15, Thursday 20th October 2022
How to watchAmazon Prime
OddsLeicester 13/10, Draw 13/5, Leeds 19/10

Gerrard's former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers finds himself in a similar boat to his old Reds' captain after a miserable start to the campaign for Leicester.

After a quiet summer transfer window, the Foxes have endured a torrid start to the season and sit rock-bottom of the table ahead of the arrival of Leeds United on Thursday night.

With just one win to their name this season, in a 4-0 home victory over newly-promoted Nottingham Forest, the pressure has been piling on Rodgers to turn things around.

Leicester go into this game without top goalscorer James Maddison, after the England playmaker picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in a goalless draw with Crystal Palace last time out.

Maddison has found the back of the net five times in the Premier League this season and his absence will be felt when Jesse Marsch's Leeds head down the M1.

However, the West Yorkshire outfit have lost their way in recent weeks and their 3-0 victory over Chelsea on 21st August was their last win in the Premier League.

Leeds could count themselves somewhat unfortunate not to have earned something from their clash with Premier League frontrunners Arsenal on Sunday.

After missing a penalty and being denied an injury-time spot-kick by VAR, it was the Gunners who left Elland Road smiling after a 1-0 victory.

Patrick Bamford was the man to miss the crucial penalty but he’ll be pushing for a starting role after coming off the bench against Mikel Arteta's side.

Junior Firpo has also worked his way back to fitness but it's likely Marsch will stick with Pascal Struikj in the left-back position for the trip to the East Midlands.

Barnes has form against Leeds

While the talented Maddison will be missed, Leicester do have an ace up their sleeve in the form of attacker Harvey Barnes.

The 24-year-old seems to love playing against Leeds and has scored against the Whites in all of his last five appearances against them.

Barnes is available at 13/5 to score anytime on Thursday night, while Jamie Vardy is 6/4 to finally get off the mark and score his first goal in the Premier League this season.

The former England striker has cast a frustrated figure with no goals in his first 10 league games of the campaign.

Rodgers could do with Vardy finding his magic touch to help the Foxes land three points that would just ease the pressure slightly on the manager's shoulders.

If clubs are to make changes to their managerial positions, it's likely to be in the near future, with the World Cup break just around the corner.

A new manager coming in would have time over the break to get to know his new surroundings and the players not taking part in the tournament in Qatar.

Gerrard and Rodgers will be hoping Thursday's results go a long way in ensuring they are the managers at Villa and Leicester to pick up the season after the World Cup break in December.

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