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A first Premier League visit to Elland Road next season

Last night Fulham returned to the Premier League after a one year absence to complete the line up for the 2020/21 season, joining Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion with Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich City departing.

Leeds won the league comfortably while West Brom looked to be cruising to promotion until they decided they wouldn’t win any of their last four games. That almost let in Brentford but if any team blew it this season it was Brentford. With two league games to go they were in pole position but they lost them both and then went on to lose two of their three play-off games. Four defeats in five is not promotion form and last night they were beaten 2-1 by Fulham who claimed that final promotion place.

It’s not too long since we last played two of those three in the Premier League; the other, Leeds United and ourselves have never met in top flight football since the 1975/76 season.  Both games that season ended in defeat.

We lost 1-0 at home in September 1975 to a Trevor Cherry goal and in April of the following year were beaten 2-1 at Elland Road. Duncan McKenzie scored for Leeds that day with the other two goals coming from players who would eventually play for the opposition. Ray Hankin equalised for us towards the end of the first half but Peter Hampton scored the winner for Leeds some 18 minutes from the end.

Had Brentford won promotion they would have become the Premier League’s fiftieth team. Of the 48 besides ourselves, Leeds will become the 35th we have played in what will be our seventh season in the league.

West Brom and a trip to the Hawthorns, that might have been something to make you shudder but for our last visit. We seemed to do a good job at avoiding playing West Brom for years but when we finally met in the Premier League in 2014/15 we were beaten 4-0 there and drew 2-2 at home. Two seasons later, incredibly, the results were identical with another four goal pasting there with both of those big defeats screened live by Sky.

They even put a dampener on our win at Chelsea when the 2017/18 season kicked off, beating us 1-0 at the Turf in a week later, but we finally got that win against them when we went there later in the season, Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood scoring in a 2-1 win.

We’ve played Fulham in two seasons previously in the Premier League. We drew 1-1 at home in 2009/10 and two seasons ago beat them 2-1. Wade Elliott scored in that 1-1 draw while Jeff Hendrick and a Dennis Odoi own goal secured the points for us last time after Andre Schürrle had scored a stunning opener for Fulham.

Down at Craven Cottage it hasn’t been quite so successful. We were outplayed there in 2010 when Roy Hodgson’s team beat us 3-0 and two seasons ago it was hardly any better as we went down to a 4-2 defeat.

It’s goodbye to Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich, three teams we were able to take six points from last season. We might need to get points from some of these newly promoted clubs too, we are already being installed as one of the relegation favourites.

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