By David Woods

17th Dec, 2019 | 5:35pm

MOT View: Bielsa to drop player who's made 9 starts – Predicted Leeds starting XI v Fulham

Saturday afternoon brings the biggest game of the season so far for Leeds United.

They travel to Fulham, who are the biggest rivals for automatic promotion for Leeds according to the bookies, despite being on a run of three straight defeats.

Why so big?

Leeds are already 12 points ahead of Fulham. A win would leave them 15 points clear approaching the midway point of the season. It would take a monumental collapse to lose that in the second half of the season.

A defeat would let the chasing pack catch up a little bit.

Despite the disappointment of losing a three-goal lead against Cardiff, Leeds are in brilliant form. Unbeaten in 11 games and the last loss shouldn’t have happened after Gaetano Berardi was wrongly sent off against Millwall and a penalty awarded against him.

Scotland international Liam Cooper should be back too, which is a massive boost for Leeds.

He’s missed the last three games and he and Ben White can resume their brilliant partnership in the centre of defence. That’s important with Aleksandar Mitrovic providing the menace for Fulham.

Gaetano Berardi – who’s played really well in the nine starts he’s made this season – will drop out.

Fulham play a 4-3-3 so Marcelo Bielsa will likely play his preferred 4-1-4-1 with Stuart Dallas on the left and Luke Ayling on the right of defence.

Gjanni Alioski can carry on being our super sub.

There are no other injury issues and even if Adam Forshaw, Jamie Shackleton and Tyler Roberts are declared fit, they won’t make the starting XI.

The line-up is solid at the moment, with Patrick Bamford up front, Jack Harrison and Helder Costa chipping in with goals from the wings, and Mateusz Klich and Pablo Hernandez in the middle.

Bielsa has options off the bench if needed. Both Eddie Nketiah and Jack Clarke scored for the Under-23s on Monday and both looked back to peak form.

We hope they don’t get on the pitch – it will mean a victory for Leeds. However, they’re great weapons to have if Leeds do need them.

We’d obviously kill for a win on Saturday but a draw against Fulham wouldn’t be so bad.

Let’s just keep that unbeaten run going.

In other Leeds United news: MOT View – Leeds handed three major boosts ahead of crunch clash v Fulham